Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Review: Things I Can't Explain by Mitchell Kriegman

Title: Things I Can't Explain
Author: Mitchell Kriegman
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Age Group: New Adult
Category: Contemporary
Release date: November 10th, 2015
Pages: 304 (Hardcover)
Rating: 3 out of 5
Source: Publisher
Goodreads | Amazon Author

She was a smart, snappy, light-hearted girl who knew it all at fourteen. Now a woman in her late twenties, her searching blue eyes are more serious, but mostly amused by the people around her. The gap-toothed smile that made her seem younger than she really was is gone, but she still lightens up the room. Her unpredictable wardrobe rocks just like when she was a kid, but her fashion sense has evolved and it makes men and women turn their heads. 

After leaving high school early, Clarissa interned at the Daily Post while attending night school. At the ripe old age of twenty- two she had it made – her own journalism beat (fashion, gender politics and crime), an affordable apartment in FiDi and a livable wage. She was so totally ahead of the game. Ah, those were the days! All three of them. Remember the Stock Market Crash of 08? Remember when people actually bought newspapers? 

All of Clarissa’s charming obsessions, charts, graphs, and superstitions have survived into adulthood, but they’ve evolved into an ever-greater need to claw the world back under control. Her mid-twenties crisis has left her with a whole set of things she can’t explain: an ex-boyfriend turned stalker, her parents’ divorce, a micro relationship with the cute coffee guy, java addiction, “To-Flue Glue,” and then there’s Sam. Where’s Sam anyway?

Clarissa Darling was a role-model for all types of teenage girls in the early 90's.  There was something about her personality that was so endearing to those who tuned in to watch her explain it all.  Now she's in her mid-twenties and living in New York.  She may not have all of the same views she once had, but she's still not afraid to express her opinions, and she does so through her writing.  In Things I Can't Explain, fans of Clarissa Explains It All will finally get to see what came of Clarissa's life and the people who were once in it.

As a 90's kid, I loved Nickelodeon.  One of my favorite shows was Clarissa Explains It All, because the main character was a spunky, honest individual.  The sitcom was short-lived, only lasting 4 years, but it made an impression on shows to follow.  After 20 years (seriously, it's been that long?), Clarissa's back in the form of a book.  Suddenly, I was a kid again, pulled back into her world of wacky fashion and homemade video games.  I had high hopes, but this Clarissa wasn't quite what I thought she'd be.

In some ways, Clarissa is still the same, with the charts and lists, the random facts and wordy monologues...she's even still best friends with Jody (who was so much more irritating than I remembered).  In other ways, I found her to be a little more pretentious than she was when she was 14.  Maybe it was the change of scenery or the situations she's found herself in, but I wasn't loving this change of character.  Still, she reeled me into the story quickly, along with my curiosity about her family and ladder-climbing friend, Sam.  Being in my 20's, I could also relate to certain issues she was currently dealing with, but around the midway point, the story began to lose my interest.

I'd say that Things I Can't Explain is definitely worth a read for those who are familiar with the show.  Honestly, I think even those who haven't watched Clarissa Explains It All (what are you doing?  you should get on that ASAP) could enjoy her story, but the references to the show will keep your inner 90's kid entertained.


  1. Aw! I think I definitely want to read this one. Even if just to get back to the Clarissa mindset. It definitely interesting to think how Clarissa may have ended up. But really, I just want to feel nostalgic for the good ol' days.

    Jenn at Books and Swoons

    1. It was pretty cool to read, because it's definitely told by Clarissa's voice! I could imagine in my head perfectly.

  2. I can't wait to read this!! Clarissa was one of my favorite shows ever... I just recently saw a few episodes on Nickelodeon and !!!!!! They were just as awesome as I remembered them to be. I hope I like this book, although I am not expecting Clarissa to be the girl from the TV show because that would be hard to translate into book form I think. Great review!