Monday, June 27, 2011

review: Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

pub date: June 14, 2011
publisher: Random House
pages: 349
source: LibraryThing Early Reviewer
appeals: sisterhood of the traveling pants
content: a little swearing including f-word, off-page sex

I was a huge fan of the first three Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books. I loved Tibby and Bee and Lena and Carmen's friendship and their growth as characters. I loved the arc of their individual and shared stories through those first three books.

I pretend the fourth Sisterhood book never happened. It was unwrapping the perfect package that the third book left for me and throwing the contents all around and leaving the Sisters in utter upheaval. Worse, it was as if the lessons learned in the first three books had never been learned. All four girls were back to where they were at fifteen, dealing with their college problems as if they hadn't grown at all. As if they hadn't learned anything. All of them took five huge steps backward and it was irksome. Maybe that's realistic, but then heck, I wanted fantasy.

Fourth book? There never was any fourth Sisterhood book...

So I approached this fifth book in the series with some trepidation. Though I loved high school Bee and Lena and Carmen and Tibby, did I really want to read what Brashares had in store for them as adults?

This is definitely an adult book, and not because of content. It was the way it was written. There is very little outside action. So much of this book is introspection. And though introspection is great (in small doses), I am a plot person and I wanted more action to keep the story moving, not more thoughts and feelings and internal sorrows. I thought the middle was slow and dull because of it.

The following might be considered slightly spoilery...I don't think so, but I'm giving you warning...

Near the beginning of the book there was a catastrophe. I cried. The Sisters felt guilt and grief and a little bit of blame towards each other. And they allowed the catastrophe to isolate them from each other. I found that hard to believe. After being through so much and helping each other through so much in 30 years of friendship, I was utterly shocked at their behavior. And I didn't believe that they would really respond that way. I expected them to rally together, not pull apart. So that was irritating. And to me, unbelievable. But maybe that's just me in denial. And wanting the fantasy, not the reality.

Part of the reason I thought it was a little slow was because I understood the catastrophe in a way that the Sisters didn't, and I'm not sure why. Was it written so the reader would understand? Or was it supposed to be a surprise to the reader and I am just uncommonly brilliant? Not sure, but I knew what really happened right when it did and it took the Sisterhood until the end to discover the truth. And since I knew most of the truth for most of the book, it felt like a long time for the Sisters to figure it out.

But, for my complaining above, in the end I did enjoy the book. I closed it on the last page, then opened it and reread the ending again. The ending I believed (though it's probably the most improbably aspect of the whole book). And it stuck with me. I thought about it the whole next day. I liked the Sisterhood grown up and responsible (for the most part) and succeeding. It left me with a feeling of hope. And let's face it, I love these girls. How can I not love their story? (with the exception of the fourth book that never was).

So yes, a good book that I recommend for Sisterhood fans.

Now Tibby, Lena, Carmen, and Bridget have grown up, starting their lives on their own. And though the jeans they shared are long gone, the sisterhood is everlasting.

Despite having jobs and men that they love, each knows that something is missing: the closeness that once sustained them. Carmen is a successful actress in New York, engaged to be married, but misses her friends. Lena finds solace in her art, teaching in Rhode Island, but still thinks of Kostos and the road she didn’t take. Bridget lives with her longtime boyfriend, Eric, in San Francisco, and though a part of her wants to settle down, a bigger part can’t seem to shed her old restlessness.

Then Tibby reaches out to bridge the distance, sending the others plane tickets for a reunion that they all breathlessly await. And indeed, it will change their lives forever—but in ways that none of them could ever have expected.

As moving and life-changing as an encounter with long-lost best friends, Sisterhood Everlasting is a powerful story about growing up, losing your way, and finding the courage to create a new one.

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