REVIEW: “The Princess Diarist” by Carrie Fisher

Artwork by Cameron Smith

Artwork by Cameron Smith

Before the enormous fame, the gold-clad bikini and the drugs (well, okay there were still drugs involved even back then, but a modest, teenage amount), there was a ragtag crew of people working on a small sci-fi fantasy film in London, a stoic-faced director, a 30-something carpenter with a talent for making people nervous, and Carrie. Just Carrie.

“The Princess Diarist’s” resonance lies in its relatability. It’s understandable why some reviews claim the diary entries can be uninteresting at times, as most of the reviewers are adults—namely men. Carrie’s entries are the raw and often uncomfortably relatable chronicles of a confused nineteen-year-old; unless you happen to fall within that very niche audience, this book might be nothing more than a quick Sunday read for you. However, if you are an adult man and happen to relate to this, my condolences—you are the exception. This book encapsulates the period of time when 19-year-old Carrie grappled valiantly and comically with womanhood, experience, sexuality, maturity and identity—all while unknowingly birthing one of the most iconic franchises in film history.

Her journal entries are visceral, authentic, and frustratingly well-written for a nineteen-year-old girl divulging her deepest, darkest secrets to a diary. The idea is cliché, the writing, on the contrary, is quite the opposite. The book’s narrative panders between poignant diary entries and comically wise retrospect from 40 years later, offering invaluable perspective ($22—but close enough).

Spoilers aside—the focal point of the book, Harrison and Carrie’s relationship, is more complex, intriguing, and turbulent than our imaginations assumed. “Carrison,” as she lovingly and jokingly refers to the two of them, is a fanfiction dream come true—all without an ounce of fabrication. There’s a fight vying for Carrie, a getaway car, an incredible number of sporadic make-out sessions in the backs of cabs, secretly shared apartment flats, and the exhausting balancing act that comes with hiding a complicated relationship in plain sight.

I’m now the same age as she was when she wrote these diary pages, and I always find myself returning to the questions, “Are all 19-year-olds THIS self-loathing? Do they think about death as much as I do? Is this normal—am I?”

Short answer after reading this: yes. Everyone is, in fact, that much of a mess at nineteen.
“The Princess Diarist,” is an amalgam of forlorn love poems, identity crises, unrequited love, self-crippling doubt, and a healthy dose of brazen stupidity. In short, it’s a snapshot of being an incorrigible nineteen-year-old girl, and for that, it’s a rare, bittersweet triumph. This book is brave, vulnerable, unabashed and comforting in a strange and unexpected way, much like its inimitable author. May she rest in peace, drowned in moonlight and strangled by her own bra.