Last weekend, a rare gap in my library holds queue left me perusing the audiobooks on the shelves. I’d picked out a Jennifer Cruise novel–one that would be an easy listen as I waited for a much-awaited read to become available on my list–and was on my way to the self check machine when an author’s name caught my eye. The author was Ann Brashares, and, upon closer inspection, the title was Sisterhood Everlasting. Could it be? I wondered. And it was. A fifth installment of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. Not just another book in the series, but a “reunion” book–a story of the characters ten years later.
I was absolutely giddy in the aisles of the library, as I practically danced to the check-out line, then to my car, where I had the first CD going before I’d even left the parking lot.
On her blog, Brashares writes:
I promised myself that after taking a break from them and trying out some other things I would come back and find them later in their lives. So that’s what I’ve done in Sisterhood Everlasting. I’ve rediscovered Carmen, Lena, Bridget, and Tibby on the cusp of their thirtieth birthdays. Though it felt right to be away—all of us off doing our different things—it felt wonderful to come back together.
And I couldn’t agree more. Reconnecting with well-known characters is like reconnecting with old friends. You pick up right where you left off, and you get a little thrill whenever a reference is made to your shared past. For the entire week, I found myself taking an extra lap around the block before pulling into my destination and reveling in a little extra traffic–anything to listen to a little bit more of their story.
After recently abandoning another “ten years later” book from a series I’d loved as a middle schooler, I was thrilled to find an author who’d done it right. It’s quite a feat to create a novel with a plotline that holds up on its own, stays true to its characters, and doesn’t discount any of the events from the original series. Brashares took the challenge and delivered beautifully.
Upon reading the first two novels in middle/high school, and enjoying the third and fourth upon their releases, I was pulled into the lives on the four teenage girls. As a reader, I experienced their family issues, first kisses, first loves, traveling adventures, and meaningful friendships. I envied the bond that held them together, and felt blessed to have my own close girlfriends in my life. Brashares created genuine characters with relatable issues, and presented the trials and tribulations of teenage girls with complete honesty.
And now, reading about the same characters who’ve grown to be young adults, as I have, I was able to connect with them on another level. No longer are their problems about growing up, they’re now about being grown-ups. Again, the issues are real: marriage, babies, careers… and death.
Without giving any spoilers, I will admit that, about two discs into the novel (100 pages?? It’s hard to reference since I listened to this one!), I thought she’s ruined the series. What? I found myself saying. How could she do that? But, being so devoted to the characters, I stuck it out, and am glad I did. (That’s all I’m going to say.)
Overall, I would suggest this novel to anyone who fell in love with the original series. If you aren’t familiar with Carmen, Lena, Tibby, and Bee, then I suggest you get reading. And don’t you dare take them out of order. Start at the beginning, and enjoy experiencing the bonds of friendship, becoming a part of the sisterhood yourself.
Side Note: Here’s a review of the book posted on one of my favorite book blogs, Forever Young Adult.
Side Note #2: I had this post all written and ready to go on Monday, hit “Publish” and WHOOSH! it was all gone. Grrr… I was too p.o.’ed to re-write it again until today (while I’m home sick).