Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

44. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
45. Girls in Pants by Ann Brashares
46. Forever in Blue by Ann Brashares

I spent the past three days reading through the three Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books that I own (books 1, 3, and 4). I needed to read them for many reasons. One, because my friend and I are writing a book together, which we've been working on for three years, and it's almost done (not counting, you know, the publishing process), and these books were probably our main inspiration. Two, because I just got home for the summer as all of my friends left for school...and, I wanted to remind myself about the complexities of friendship, and also distract myself. Three, because I wanted to remember (and emulate) the truth of Brashares' writing and the style of it. I don't want to copy her, but I want to make sure that our book, in its own way, is every bit as brutally honest, and comforting, and down-to-earth.

I relate to these four girls because their personalities are real, and their experiences are real, and their reactions are real. It doesn't hurt that they also grow up in suburban Maryland. My friend told me that the incredible closeness of these four girls does seem a little unbelievable. And maybe it is. But I want to believe it. And I know, from shreds and bits of my own experiences, that it could be possible. Maybe it's just a beautiful theory, but humans are capable of connecting strongly to each other, even though circumstance seems to rule in the end.

There are lines about each girl in the book that I would apply to myself at one time or other, lines I'm sure apply to many girls and women, especially ones with backgrounds similar to mine and the girls in the book. You can tie each girl into a stereotype; Bridget, the beautiful athlete who doesn't stop till she gets what she wants and lost her mother at a young age; Lena, the extraordinary but shy beauty from a conservative Greek family who wants to be an artist; Carmen, the feisty Latina who's also practical, intuitive, and good at math; and Tibby, the aspiring filmmaker who doesn't want anything to change. But even then, sometimes Lena is bold, sometimes Carmen is shy, sometimes Bee (short for Bridget) is insightful, sometimes Tibby is daring.

People change. Relationships change. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants do too. And the way you look at a book can change, but it will always be there for you when you need it most.

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