Things I Can't Explain by Mitchell Kriegman | Rating: ★★★★★
As a note, an e-galley of this novel was sent to me via NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.
Things I Can’t Explain is the highly anticipated modern day sequel to everyone’s favorite and quirky know-it-all narrated kids show, now considered a classic, Clarissa Explains It All. I can’t name a single person I know who isn’t familiar with the iconic and charming television series, whether they watched it as it aired or when it was put in syndication and reruns took over their summertime.
Regardless of the hows and the whens, a great deal of us grew up with Clarissa Explains It All; giggling and admiring the series in a way that only the young can. You couldn’t help but to love Clarissa and her long winded narration. I’ve often wondered what happened after the show ended, because it’s impossible to not enjoy yourself so Things I Can’t Explain has been on my mind for ages now.
But where is Clarissa Darling now, you ask?
New York City–jobless and searching for something, anything; like many people in their late twenties. Clarissa is just the same as ever, only more adult and slightly more polished–but she’s still our Clarissa, guys. Pretentious at times, funny and opinionated in other moments. Good news, too, guys: she is still a total badass in her fashion choices.
And so we’re treated to a wonderful narrator that is light on our minds, fun and yes–full of doodles and lists. Although there are flaws in her narration here and there, it still is a light and quick read. Things I Can’t Explain is the sort of novel you can finish in one sitting and then subtly hope that one day there will be a sequel to it.
Back to Clarissa.
She’s navigating this new stage of her life with as much quirk and grace as one can expect. After a rad start to her life as an adult in the big city, and a dream job at the Daily Post, which is now dunzo, Clarissa finds herself out of a journalism gig due to takeover from the internet age and as readers we get to watch as she searches for a new job, dodges stalkerish ex-boyfriends, bonds with the girls, reflects and balances her family life as well as new romance.
But what of her “platonic” best friend Sam?
Everyone always thought the two would end up together and I mean everyone. But did they? Or even after all this time, was their friendship really of the platonic variety?
Well, you’ll definitely have to check out the book to see what the two got up to after the original series. It may surprise you, it may not. There wasn’t enough Sam in it, for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s not charming and amusing in its own rights. After all, the story isn’t his–it’s Clarissa.
But he is mentioned frequently and we get glimpses of what their relationship is like nowadays. [SPOILERS] See, the fangirl in me was pleased to know, their relationship wasn’t quite as platonic as we’d all thought it was. Let’s be real: I was shipping these two before I knew what shipping meant.
It felt like unfinished business, as she says herself in her narration, and the flashbacks we had of the two were… well.. I’ll let you read it to find out, kids.
I was pretty disappointed in how it all turned out by the end of the novel, but at the same time, I thought it reflected real life quite well. And I didn’t mind Clarissa’s growing will-they-or-won’t-they relationship with Nick, even if he isn’t the most interesting character I’ve come across.
Readers looking for more on the other members of the Darlings will be pleased to know we get to know what Ferguson (good old Fergwad!), Janet and Marshall have been up to in the years that have passed. But maybe not too pleased, at first, given each of their situations–let’s just say separation and jail time are among their plots.
Can you guess who wound up in jail?
For years, we watched Clarissa’s take on the world and giggled at her sometimes overthetop styles; we grinned widely every time Sam climbed his later into her bedroom to join in on the conversation. We grimaced and cringed at the more awkward times and simply couldn’t get enough. Things I Can’t Explain holds onto this tone, the lighthearted and charming and real; making a treat for the nostalgic reader to embrace.
Some of it may come as a bit of a shock to readers, seeing Clarissa as an adult who–gasp–curses and has sex, but for the most part, it’s not all that difficult to get into. It felt a lot like catching up with an old friend and I wouldn’t mind having it happen again. I even dressed for the occasion in some hot pink tights. Who wouldn't?