The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares rating: 4 of 5 stars I am surprised to admit that I really liked this book. I thought it was going to be stupid, filled with fake, boy-crazy, fashion-crazy teenagers, but this wasn’t the case. Instead, I found a book full of heart and great, highly relatable teenage angst. (Though it is a little bit of an “issues” book as my friend Peta likes to say.) The story in a nutshell is about four fifteen-year-old best friends who have to split up for summer vacation. Just before they leave, they all try on a pair of blue jeans that turns out to fit each of them in different (but flattering) ways, and because this is the best pair of pants ever they decide to mail them to each other back and forth all summer long. The story follows each girl during the summer and shows their letters back and forth to each other. Each of the characters feels like a real person with interesting problems and at the end, despite the fact that the girls spend most of the summer apart, you come away with a keen sense of the importance of their friendships to their lives. Of course the book had its faults. For example, because the story is told from four different points of view, it is a little bit hard to keep track of who is who at first. I found myself having to rely on their stereotypes (i.e., “the pretty one”, “the jock”) to be able to keep them straight in my head. Also, the POV shifts very quickly from character to character, sometimes only after a few paragraphs, so just as you are getting used to being inside one character’s head, you are suddenly forced to dive into another one. I did like most of the girls, like Lena (“the pretty one”) who spends her vacation in Greece, Carmen (“the half-Puerto Rican one”) who goes to stay with her father for the summer, and Bridget (“the jock”) who goes away to summer camp along with her raging hormones. But the one story line that I really disliked was that of Tibby (“the…other one”) who spends the whole summer with a pre-teen girl named Bailey, who has cancer. Of course Bailey, despite her initial cranky wise-cracking ways, turns out to be an old soul who appreciates life and can figure out the best parts of people in an instant. Bailey teaches Tibby not to judge people based on their initial appearances. Now I have no trouble with Tiibby learning something from this experience–her friend has a life-threatening condition after all– but I Bailey just seemed too good to be true, the stereotype of a kid with cancer. Why does she have to be so wise and good? She’s still just a kid after all. The author’s attempts to make Bailey realistic are not done convincingly. In any case, this was a good book and I would recommend it to anyone who likes YA chick-lit done well. I might even read the next one and am now kind of curious to see the movie.
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