Those who grew up in the ‘90s will likely remember Clarissa Darling, the witty, offbeat heroine of the Nickelodeon sitcom “Clarissa Explains It All.” This novel, written by the creator of the show, follows a grown-up Clarissa trying to navigate life in her late 20s. Although she achieved her childhood goal of becoming a journalist, she’s now unemployed because the newspaper she worked for has gone under. Her family is also in a state of upheaval, as her overachieving mother and impractical father are separating. And most confusing of all is her love life, as she wavers between an old romance and a chance at something new. Clarissa may have been a know-it-all as a teen, but now she’ll have to confront, and maybe even embrace, the fact that she still has a lot to learn.
When I was a kid, “Clarissa Explains It All” was one of my favorite shows, but I definitely overestimated my level of nostalgia for it! First of all, I actually remembered much less about the show than I thought I did. I had no memory of Clarissa’s lists and wacky superstitions, and I didn’t remember her female friends at all. In fact, I think all I really wanted to know was what happened between Clarissa and her best friend Sam. The show kept them platonic throughout, but honestly, my sappy romantic soul wanted them to end up together! And — spoiler alert — they don’t. In fact, Sam is never actually “on page”; Clarissa reminisces about him quite frequently, but we never get his side of the story. That bugged me so much that maybe I’m not being fair about the rest of the book. But overall, I thought it was pretty mediocre chick lit, not really worth reading unless you’re a diehard Clarissa fan.