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Review of Caren Lissner’s “Carrie Pilby”

6 April 2011 3 Comments

Official synopsis from Harlequin Teen

Teen Genius (and Hermit) Carrie Pilby’s To-Do List:

1. List 10 things you love (and DO THEM!)

2. Join a club (and TALK TO PEOPLE!)

3. Go on a date (with someone you actually LIKE!)

4. Tell someone you care (your therapist DOESN’T COUNT!)

5. Celebrate New Year’s (with OTHER PEOPLE!)

Seriously? Carrie would rather stay in bed than deal with the immoral, sex-obsessed hypocrites who seem to overrun her hometown, New York City. She’s sick of trying to be like everybody else. She isn’t! But when her own therapist gives her a five-point plan to change her social-outcast status, Carrie takes a hard look at herself—and agrees to try.

Suddenly the world doesn’t seem so bad. But is prodigy Carrie really going to dumb things down just to fit in?

I’m always seeing commentaries on movies or books that say such and such character goes through a journey and you get to see how they progress from the beginning of the film/book till the end.  It wasn’t until I read Caren Lissner’s novel, Carrie Pilby, that I actually experienced that.  This book is definitely a journey, not only for Carrie, the main character, but also for the reader.  You really see how much growth Carrie undergoes throughout the book.  At the start of the novel, Carrie is a know-it-all who is also lacking a bit of sympathy toward her fellow man.  By the end…well, let’s just say Carrie gains a whole new perspective on a lot of different things.  

For starters she is the most over-thinking over-thinker I’ve ever heard of, and coming from someone like myself, who overanalyzes Every. Single. Thing, that’s saying a lot! It was so much fun to empathize with another over analyzer and see how her brain flits so quickly from one line of thinking to the next.  For example, in one scene Carrie starts wondering if polkas are Polish so she looks it up in the dictionary, next thing you know she goes off on some tangent that leads her to wonder about gypsy moths.  This, my friends, is what it’s like inside the brains of the super analytical.  Our brains never rest! (I often wonder if one day mine will just explode, or overheat like a computer processor.) 

It’s not just her analytical mind that I love but she has so many other quirks that I adore.  For instance one of them is an all time favorite hobby of mine: spelling things phonetically.  Like when talking about Louisiana, she spells it like those in the South would say it: “Looosiana”. 

One of the things that is really intriguing about this book is that, while there is an infinite amount of hilarity, the levity is balanced out by a dire realism about Carrie’s years in college that the reader comes to learn about.  I don’t want to say too much about what happened so as not to give anything away, but suffice it to say it’s heartbreaking but dealt with by Lissner in such a way, that while it was an unexpected plot thread, it definitely makes you understand certain aspects of Carrie’s personality more.  She’s not completely shaped by this circumstance but it does influence her. While learning more about what she’s gone through it’s hard not to feel a surge of righteous indignation on her behalf, and on behalf of those in the real world who have dealt with or are now dealing with similar circumstances.   

As part of my send-off I’m going to include a quote from the book that I think is a beautiful example of who Carrie Pilby is (there are so many quotable moments that it is hard to narrow it down to just one): 

                                                     “My only deformity is my desire for truth and justice.”

I could go on and on about this book but I’ll leave the rest for y’all to discover. So to end my review here’s a shout out to Caren Lissner, I can’t believe I just heard about your hilariously awesome book in spite of the fact that it’s been out in the wild for 7 years, but oh boy, am I ever glad I stumbled upon it.

There’s a sequel included in Scenes from a Holiday, but I’ve yet to get my hands on a copy.  Once I do, rest assured that I’ll be reviewing it!  Be sure to check out Caren Lissner’s Twitter, blog, and official website for more info on Carrie and Lissner’s other works.


                                                                                        Rating: 4 books


  • Caren said:

    Wow, thanks! What a nice review! I’m glad you found my book. This is a great blog. I’m gonna read more of it. Thanks again!


  • Stefanie (author) said:

    Oh my goodness! No, thank you for your book. 🙂 I’ll try to restrain my fangirling and just say thanks for commenting!

  • Susan said:

    Stephanie, can you please contact me about this WONDERFUL review at the address listed on this comment? If you have a second? Thanks!

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