Wednesday, October 7

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants - Ann Brashares

When Carmen found the jeans in a second-hand store it was more to rile Lena's mother, who didn't like the idea of clothes that weren't new, than because she recognised their greatness. They just looked like a slightly faded pair of jeans, but the four girls - Carmen, Lena, Tibby and Bridget - quickly discovered the pants had an almost magical quality. For, despite their quite different builds, the pants flattered each girls' body.
Born over an eighteen day time span, the daughters of women who attended the same antenatal group and friends from babyhood, this would be the first summer they'd spent apart in fifteen years. Lena and her younger (but precocious) sister were going to visit their grandparents on an island of the Greek coast, Bridget was going to soccer camp in Baja, Carmen was going on her visit to South Carolina to stay with her father, and Lena was staying in Georgetown. The girls vow to write, and to share the pants via mail over the whole summer.
The Sisterhood is something of a phenomenon, spanning four books and two films. None of that was evident when I bought my copy, the year it was released, but coming to it eight years later I'm aware of the splash. When I began reading it I really couldn't see why, but the characters and their relationships did grow on me. While some tumultuous things happen, reflecting the period of change they're experiencing, the novel is considerably more character- than plot-driven.
Brashares does a great job portraying the conflicts of female adolescence (and probably male, but I can only draw on memories of these years for me), particularly Carmen's issues with her father. The girls are at different levels of emotional development but all grow throughout the novel, viewing differently the world and their relationships with their families, while keeping true to one another.
From being somewhat ambivalent at the beginning I'm now, if not hooked at least interested in what happens next and am sure my library has the series, so watch this space. - Alex

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