Following my recent re-read of Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison, I decided to check out another book from my teenager days– the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares. To be completely honest, I only sort of vaguely remember this book despite its popularity and despite the movie, which of course I saw. I don’t have any specific memory related to this book, not like Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging at least, but I know I admired the depiction of a strong friendship, and wished I had a Carmen, Tibby, Lena, and Bridget in my life.
Released: September 2001
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From Baja California to Greece, from film-making to soccer – as Carmen, Tibby, Lena and Bridget endure their first summer apart they are secure in the knowledge that their friendship is constant – and the symbol of it is only a parcel-delivery away.
I felt something strange while reading the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I don’t know if “regret” is the right word, but I think it was something close to that. I’ve never been a social butterfly. In high school, I hung out with friends during my school days and my color guard performances, but aside from that I kept myself pretty secluded mostly communicating with friends through livejournal and AIM (AOL Instant Messenger for you youngsters out there). We rarely had slumber parties. We rarely went to the movies or the beach or the mall together. In hindsight, I feel like I missed out on creating a strong bond, a strong friendship. I was very much a Tibby Rollins, cynical and sarcastic, but without the Carmen, Lena, and Bridget to balance her.
At first I thought, if I could go back and do things differently… but then I wondered why go back in time when I still have so much future ahead of me? Because, as embarrassing as it is to admit, even at the age of 28, I still find myself living vicariously through Carmen and Tibby and Lena and Bridget. [This is about the time where I realize that I need to create one of those “Thirty before Thirty”lists and put “make real friends” at the very top.]
The four girls are hardly perfect. Sometimes they become so preoccupied by events that are going on in their own lives– discovering that a parent is about to get remarried, making a new friend only to find out she is suffering from a terminal illness, allowing oneself to become vulnerable to someone else for the first time, becoming intimate with someone before they were actually ready– that they say things that they later regret or they don’t see that another friend is working through something painful too. But, their friendship is so strong that it doesn’t take long before one of them can take a step back and forgive one another or realize that they are needed by a friend to console and to comfort and to help realign the world.
Another strange thing happened during my reread of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants— I cried. Specifically when Bailey is in the hospital and Tibby realizes just how big of an impact this little girl had on not just Tibby but the people the duo had met that summer. I never cry when I read books, but I swear, adulthood has turned me into a weepy wimp.
Naturally, I had to immediately rent the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movie. It didn’t have quite the same effect as the book because I think their friendship seemed stronger in the book. But, I still spent the last twenty minutes of the film weeping (truly, adulthood has ruined me).
If you’re looking for a contemporary novel focusing on friendship, the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is a must read!
Have you ever read the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants? What are some of your favorite books that portray a strong and positive female friendship?