Things I Can’t Explain by Mitchell Kriegman

Posted December 21, 2015 by Sara | Novel Novice 0 Comments

Na-na-nah-na-nah. WAY COOL!

Clarissa Darling is back in my life these days, and I could not be more happy about it.

things i can't explainYes, I’m talking about THAT Clarissa Darling. The one who explained it all to me back on Nickelodeon prime time in the early- to mid-1990s. The one famously portrayed by actress Melissa Joan Hart. The one with the coolest clothes, the bedroom of my dreams, and her super sweet, ladder-climbing BFF Sam.

I was obsessed with “Clarissa Explains It All” as a child, and I never got over it.

Thankfully, the show’s creator Mitchell Kriegman is here to satisfy mine and every other Clarissa devotee’s unending desire for her further explanations with his newest novel, Things I Can’t Explain — which, yes, returns Clarissa herself to our lives.

Things I Can’t Explain sees us with an older and more mature Clarissa, an unemployed, looking-for-love 20-something in New York City. Kriegman reunites us with Clarissa, and sheds light on her life after “Clarissa Explains It All,” including glimpses at her BFF Sam, her annoying kid brother Ferguson, and her lovable parents, Marshall and Janet.

Okay, yes. there is an unexplained time jump happening — of course we know Clarissa was a teen in the early 90s, but Kriegman keeps this 20-something Clarissa firmly set in the present day. So, yeah, we’ll overlook that little time warp. Because what Kriegman has allowed himself, and Clarissa, to explore by doing so — are the very issues plaguing today’s 20- and 30-somethings. In other words, those of us who grew up with Clarissa as an influential part of our lives. We see and share her struggles in this modern world. Romance, student loans, the job search, and that all-encompassing question of “what do I want to do with my life?”

Just as Clarissa was the shepherd of our adolescence, so too has she become a guide and a representative of our early adulthood. Kriegman proves that not only is Clarissa still pertinent, but that we still need her. We need her explaining it all, and exploring the things she can’t explain (as the title so aptly suggests).

And despite the passage of many years since the TV show last aired (when did I get so old???), Kriegman still perfectly captures Clarissa’s voice and demeanor. While reading, I heard Melissa Joan Hart’s voice in my head — and I sincerely hope she will record the audio book version of Things I Can’t Explain, because I just can’t tolerate anything else. The book is even complete with, yes, Clarissa’s signature charts and graphs.

My only complaint is that the book ended with so may loose ends left open — and I can live with that, if I am reassured that there will, indeed, be more Clarissa books to come. So, dear publisher — Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press — please make that happen, okay? We need more Clarissa. She is our goddess. Our guiding light. A beacon of our generation. Let her continue shepherding us through our lives, and the things we can and can’t explain, and everything that is yet to come.

Things I Can’t Explain is in stores now. Here is the official synopsis:

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?

Things I Can’t Explain is about knowing it all in your teens and then feeling like you know nothing in your twenties.

Sara | Novel Novice

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