By Ann Brashares
Did you grow up with these girls - Lena, Bee, Tibby and Carmen?
The four Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books were a reading staple for many a high school girl, myself included. Author Ann Brashares has brought the girls back ten years in the future, as they look towards their 30th birthdays. Carmen is a successful actress in NYC, engaged to a man she is not sure she truly loves. Lena is an art teacher with a casual relationship, but she still thinks about Kostos and wonders about what might have happened. Bridget still lives with Eric in California, but she can’t shake her wanderlust. And Tibby? Tibby seems to have fallen off the map after she moved to Australia with Brian. While none of the girls are as close as they wish, no one seems to remember the last time they have talked with Tibby.
One day Lena, Carmen, and Bree receive letters. Tibby has purchased them all tickets to Greece. The four girls are to be reunited at Lena’s grandparents’ house. When the three girls arrive, Tibby is nowhere to be found. Their discovery of Tibby's secrets will profoundly change their lives.
I was really relating to this book - the post-college years where your friends move to different states and you are pursuing careers and getting married, and you are so darn excited to talk to your friend once every few weeks if you are lucky. The best friendships don't change - even when you haven't seen them for months, it feels as easy and close as it has always been. But their absence leaves you incomplete.
“Growing up is hard on a friendship. There’s no revelation in that. I remember my mom once told me that a good family is built for leaving, because that is what children must do. And I’ve wondered many times, is that also what a good friendship is supposed to be built for? Because ours isn’t. We have no idea how to cope with the leaving. And I’m probably the worst of all. If you need a picture, picture this: me putting my hands over my eyes, pretending the leaving isn’t happening, waiting for us all to be together again.”
Ms. Brashares wonderfully portrays this season of life. Her characters have grown up, but at their hearts they stay the same. These are the girls you know and love. The choices this author makes for her characters will surprise you - this is real life. There is no bubble of safety for these girls. They are now grownups dealing with very grownup problems.
I have to admit I found the ending sort of far-fetched. But sometimes you can give beloved characters grace that you wouldn't give to others. I wasn't sure how I would feel about Brashares bringing the four girls back so long after the other books; but I was happy to see them again, the way you are happy to see old friends, real or literary.