Review: Carrie Pilby by Carren Lissner

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Where did you get this book from: e-ARC from Netgalley

Release date:  Out now

Contains some minor spoilers

Blurb taken from eHarlequin’s website:

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?

First thing I want to say is that the cover of this book doesn’t set the tone at all. This book does not feature a heroine who wears colourful clothes with stiletto heels. In fact this book features a very depressed and lonely 19 year old girl. And it’s not what you call a happy fun read.

Carrie is a 19 year old genius. She skipped 3 grades in grammar school, and went to Harvard when she was 15 years old. There was a big gap with the other kids being 6-7 years older than she.  And because of how smart she is, and not interacting with peers of her own age, she lost her social skills and became a loner because no matter how hard she tried to fit in, everyone else was more developed emotionally and sexually.

Carrie now lives in New York on her own after graduating college, doing odd jobs that her father finds for her.  Carrie has a distant, but at the same time loving relationship with her father, but it’s strained because of the ‘Big Lie’ Carrie’s Dad told her.  She also sees a therapist (on her father’s instructions) because she has no social skills whatsoever, and to put it bluntly, she is depressed. Carrie uses her intellect as an excuse for why she shouldn’t make friends, and a very bad experience with her college professor reinforces her belief that she should be alone. But her therapist, Dr Petrov, works with Carrie, and encourages her to slowly ease her way into society again by making friends, joining a member’s club, and having a date. Carrie uses sarcastic words and her intellect as a defence mechanism, and rubbishes the idea at first, but soon gets into things, and starts to work on her list. Carrie slowly realises that she’s not better off as she is, and gradually eases her way back into life.

I’m conflicted about this book. It’s definitely an interesting and likeable read, and I laughed at some of the comments Carrie made, but it’s also very sad. Carrie literally has no friends, she had an awful experience with her college professor who groomed her and took advantage of her when she was in college. Her favourite thing to do? Sleeping in her bed whilst listening to the rain.

So the simple blurb above, and the cover, definitely misleads. This book was previously printed in the Red Dress Ink line, and while it has a 19 year old heroine, and she discovers things that she missed previously in her teen years, I don’t know if I would classify it as a YA. If you’re looking for a book with character oriented descriptions, lots of interactions, and even romance, this is not the book for you. It’s told in first person, and the book centres on Carrie’s inner thoughts on life and the people around her. She does come across as judgemental, but the way she lived her life, she doesn’t know how to interact, so her way of thinking was skewed.

Carrie comes across as very funny with her inner workings and thoughts, but being funny whilst having no friends is not so much fun. Carrie’s story is a journey, and you go through each step with her, from Carrie putting an ad in the personal dates section, to making a friend at her workplace where she temps as a legal proofreader, and to wanting to rat out the cheater that answers her ad in the dating section. Each step that Carrie takes is accompanied by her thoughts, so you’re always in her mind, and to be truthful, I found it to be quite tiring sometimes whilst reading this book, because Carrie’s character wouldn’t just delve into things and simply stop. She would delve deeper and deeper, and there is a lot of philosophy that goes on inside Carrie’s head. She also questions other people’s motives, and the discussion of fidelity is very strong in this book. Callie questions the excuses people make for cheating.

So while I did find this to be an enjoyable read, I wasn’t expecting it be so heavy. I sometimes found myself skipping some of Carrie’s observations because they were so long winded. But Carrie is definitely a very unusual heroine, and when she started to live life again, I wished that the ending wasn’t so abrupt. I wanted to see how she carried on with her new lease on life, and how she would fare in her new found relationships.

I give Carrie Kirby 4 stars.

3 thoughts on “Review: Carrie Pilby by Carren Lissner”

  1. Hey Lou – just wanted to let you know what we have a team of great filmmakers working on a Carrie Pilby movie. We love the story of her journey, from her Pilby Parties to her sassy quotes – and we are currently crowdfunding the Carrie Pilby movie on Kickstarter! For a sneak peek, and to help us out, visit us at

    Carrie Pilby Kickstarter Team

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