Friday, June 17, 2011

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

I was delighted to find out there was a new installment of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. The series is near to my heart as it was one of the many quality YA series I had in my former classroom. I specifically bought the first three for my students because I loved them so deeply myself even though I was not a young adult when I read them. I can remember during my teaching tenure happily reading the fourth one (which had just come out) on the floor of my local Barnes and Nobles (the 86th between 2nd and 3rd location RIP) feeling completely satiated. Earlier this evening as I sat on a Boltbus from Washington DC to NYC, I turned on my Kindle happy to find it had power (I mostly read library books and rarely have my Kindle charged but it seemed easier to pack a Kindle than many clunky hardcovers...I always need extra books to read). Looking the book up, I was surprised to see a number of mixed reviews on Amazon. These reviews made me apprehensive to purchase the book (I have problems committing via my Kindle since I get most of my books from the library for free) but I was so deeply looking forward to being reunited with Bee, Carmen, Tibby and Lena and learning what their lives looked like as they approached 30. One of the Customer Reviewers on Amazon stated: "I feel the author did not stay true to the characters and their younger selves. While we certainly change as time goes by, I have to think that the teenage sisters would certainly be disappointed with their adult versions."

While I understand this comment and why this reviewer was disappointed by what she perceived as the "melancholy tone" of the book, I did not have trouble relating to the characters or being drawn in to the story. I found myself incredibly invested in the lives of the characters. I disagreed with many of their individual choices and often felt anguish as the story progressed and yet I still devoured the story, seeking closure. And in the end, I only wanted more words, more pages, more story.

As an almost28 year old I can relate to the "grown-up" sisters so much more than I could the teenage ones. And I am not at all surprised that they have changed in ways that may potentially disappoint their former selves. That's what we call adultolescence. What makes these young women unique is that three of the four of them are still anchored to their own adolescence as they are in some way connected to their teenage lovers. While I suppose that is interesting, I didn't find it particularly unrealistic. It is actually a lot more believable than the entire premise of how these four girls came together in the first place (their mothers met in a pregnancy aerobics class).

I don't want to give too much away about the events of the novel. Something surprising happens very early in the book. I found myself shocked and unsure how the story would unfold. There is something magical in that. I didn't truly understand many of the events until I got very far into the novel. While I was upset with the unalterable outcome and some of the author's choices, I can accept that this is the way it had to happen. My mom still gets outraged over a particular event in the Friday Night Knitting Club. She always exclaims: "That did not need to happen." And while I get her point. I am much more forgiving of most authors. I get that the story sometimes controls its own outcome.

I really treasured this book. It was wonderful to be reunited with characters I know (I rarely read series excluding the Jessica Darling books although I have been waiting not patiently for the next installment about Wynter from Bread Alone and the Baker's Apprentice by Jean Hendricks Ryan). While I understand why fans trifle with the plot lines and the character development, I truly can't complain. My mother (who has only seen the movies) asked: "So is it over?" I replied: "What is she going to do write about the characters when they are forty, fifty?" If Brashares chooses to do so, I will surely tune in.

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