Thursday, July 28, 2011

Review: Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares is the fifth installment in Brashares' smash young adult series, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.  Set several years after the fourth book, Forever in Blue, when the girls are all nearing their thirtieth birthdays, Sisterhood Everlasting is a poignant look at the dynamics of a friendship through the years.

I picked up Sisterhood Everlasting because I had read the four Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books as a teen/college student.  I grew up with Tibby, Lena, Carmen, and Bridget.  Their trials and triumphs were my trials and triumphs, and the strength of their friendship reminded me of my relationship with my best friend, Bonnie.  I had been disappointed with the melodramatic focus on Tibby's unplanned pregnancy in Forever in Blue, and Brashares in-between novel, The Last Summer of (You and Me), fell flat for me as well.  However, I was invested in the lives of the sisterhood, so I read Sisterhood Everlasting, despite several reviews that it was disheartening.  I had to know where Tibby, Lena, Carmen, and Bridget end up.

And I was not disappointed.  Sisterhood Everlasting will definitely tug at your heartstrings, but in my opinion, the book ends in a place of hope.  What more can you ask for then to have hope for the future?  Brashares took her characters in directions that I didn't always agree with or understand, but they all ended up in the right place - and what's more, they ended up there together.  Brashares throws a couple of plot twists at the reader that seem confusing and just downright disconcerting at first, but she proves in Sisterhood Everlasting that she is a master of interconnection and the surprise plot reveal.  I don't want to give away any specifics for those of you who haven't had a chance to read the book yet, but if you are reading and get discouraged, keep reading - I promise you won't be disappointed even if you are saddened along the way.  

Sisterhood Everlasting is a book that stuck with me.  I lived inside of the characters' lives while I was reading it.  My own life and experiences fell away, and I was consumed by the fears, sorrows, and ultimately the joys of Tibby, Bridget, Lena, and Carmen.  In addition, it's a book that teaches the reader something about herself.  I am sure that all readers of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series has identified with one woman in the foursome more than the others.  For me, that one has always been Lena.  I am the oldest of sisters, practical, and responsible, sometimes to the detriment of having a good time, and I have been in love with my high-school sweetheart for seven and a half years (we were married last November).  Through Lena's story, I was forced to confront some of the faults in my own persona - especially my habit of internalizing negative emotions.  Therefore, I find Sisterhood Everlasting to be a book that will speak to all readers because of its diverse characterizations and timeless, endearing plot lines.

Best matched with a history with "The Pants," your best friend(s), a glass of wine, and a box of tissues.

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