Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Delacorte Books, 2001
Other Works: Girls in Pants, The Last Summer
Flags: Teen angst
Rating: A, or Great Read
Premise: Four girl who are best friends find some "magic pants," which fit each of them perfectly. They decide to share the pants and send them to each other as they go their separate ways for the summer.

This book was simply a masterpiece. I'm starting to get addicted to YA lit, eventhough I'm in my late twenties . . . is that sick and wrong? I picked this one up because I'd heard of the movie, and it was on a list and sounded interesting. I was also in the mood for a little light reading. It's very light--I finished it in one day.

The book deals with four 15-year-old girls who each go a separate way for their summer vacations. Each girl has a unique personality and family circumstance. They decide to pass around a pair of "magic" jeans (their magic derived from the fact that they fit all the girls, with quite different body types, very well) to each other throughout the summer, and the traveling pants are born. +/-

Carmen, Bridget, Tibby, and Lena all have life altering experiences where they learn a lot about themselves and how that knowledge affects the relationships they have with others. Basically, it's a story, lyrically written in my opinion, of loss of innocence in several different ways. Whenever loss of innocence is spoken of, it usually pertains to virginity, but not exclusively in this case, which I found enchanting and very real.

It's a perfect commentary on the wonderment of being that age: somewhere between child and adult, on the verge of womanhood, tasting of the bitterness of reality but from a child-like perspective, which always results in confusion, and hopefully eventual wisdom. I think this book could be used very naturally as a tool for parents to talk to their children about sexual curiosity, death, the purpose of life, relationships, integrity, and self-identity. All of these tough issues assault young people at this tender age, eventhough we hope they won't or wish they wouldn't. I like how Brashares, rather than brushing it under the rug and pretending it's not there, faces it head on, but in a respectful and appropriate manner (which I believe is extremely difficult to do). She shows the folly, the heartache, and the lessons learned. And you can watch the girls grow into stonger people right before your eyes.

By the end of the book, I was perfectly satisfied. The writing is absolutely flawless; the story perfectly rounded. Women, and even men, of all ages can appreciate this book.

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