Today I'll share my love of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. I read those books from grade six to grade eight, and I absolutely loved them. I came to love characters like they were my best friends, my sisters. I still reread parts of the books every couple months, to slip back into the world of Bridget and Tibby and Lena and Carmen and Brian and Eric. It feels so comfortable, so familiar, like an old sweater or the hug of someone you really love.
Of the girls, I probably related most to Lena and Carmen. Lena, for her quiet awkwardness. Carmen for her anger and for her many other faults. But I loved all four of them. I adored Tibby for her dorkiness and dark humour. I loved Bridget for her wild hair and her crazy whims and her spunk. I loved them all, and I knew them, and I missed them all those years since the books ended. I would invite any opportunity to spend time with them again, which is why I enjoyed the first Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movie and endured the second one.
I long ago accepted that this series was over, in the way that I accept that some friends are not forever, but just for a short time, when you need them most. It was supposed to be four books. Four summers. Four years of high school. Four best friends. The last book was a conclusion, Forever in Blue. It was the end.
But then, the other day, I saw this:
It was like seeing an old friend on the street. Kind of exciting, because you get to see what they've been up to all these years. How they've changed. If they're still the same person you loved all those years ago. But also really scary and awkward, because, before if seemed like you could never run out of things to talk about, and, now, you struggle to fill the silence. A mix of emotions, to say the least.
The original plot summary I read seemed okay. It seemed like, maybe, we still had some things in common after all, like we could spend an afternoon together talking endlessly over each, trying to learn about the new person who had replaced our old person.
"Despite having jobs and men that they love, each knows that something is missing: the closeness that once sustained them. Carmen is a successful actress in New York, engaged to be married, but misses her friends. Lena finds solace in her art, teaching in Rhode Island, but still thinks of Kostos and the road she didn’t take. Bridget lives with her longtime boyfriend, Eric, in San Francisco, and though a part of her wants to settle down, a bigger part can’t seem to shed her old restlessness.
Then Tibby reaches out to bridge the distance, sending the others plane tickets for a reunion that they all breathlessly await. And indeed, it will change their lives forever—but in ways that none of them could ever have expected.
As moving and life-changing as an encounter with long-lost best friends, Sisterhood Everlasting is a powerful story about growing up, losing your way, and finding the courage to create a new one."
It disappointed me a little, because it wasn't what I imagined for my friends. At the end of Forever in Blue, I had chosen to believe that Lena and Kostos had gotten together sooner rather than later. I had chosen to believe that "someday" was now. And I'm kind of sick of dealing with all the Lena/Kostos drama. I dealt with some much that the first time around.
Bridget still seems to have the same commitment issues, the same flight instead of fight instincts, which frustrated me in their familiarity. Eric is so nice! So kind! So loyal! How can she not want to live with him, marry him, build a life with him? As always, I questioned Bee's choices.
Again, I felt bad for Carmen. She always gets shafted. In the first book, she was depressed about being fat and Puerto Rican and having a Dad that had forgotten about her. In the second book, she was depressed about having a mother who getting married and starting a new family without her. In the third book she only got a smidge of romance, in the background of the looking after Lena's grandmother storyline. And in the last book she was once again depressed, lonely, with a sucky friend. Carmen never gets romance or happiness, and it still doesn't seem like she has it here. Poor Carmen, my girl, you deserve so much better.
And then there was Tibby. The description kind of forgot about her, and about Brian, but I was sure they'd fix that soon. Well, I was wrong, since I found another plot summary which revealed SO MUCH MORE. If you don't want spoilers, skip this part.
"Forever in Blue: The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood (2007) ended almost a decade ago as Lena, Carmen, Bridget and Tibby completed their freshman year of college. Now approaching 30, the four friends have hit troubled waters, individually and as a group. In fact, they are barely in touch with each other. In San Francisco, Bridget avoids committing to sensitive immigration lawyer Eric (whose patience is the book's great mystery). Lena lives alone in self-proclaimed poverty and isolation in Providence, where she also teaches at RISD, but her heart still belongs to her lost Greek love Kostos. With a weekly gig on a TV police drama, Carmen's acting career has taken off and she is engaged to an ABC executive nobody else likes. The three have not heard much from Tibby since she moved to Australia with her boyfriend Brian several years ago. Then out of the blue, Tibby sends tickets for a reunion on the Greek island of Santorini, where they have already shared so much. Lena, Carmen and Bridget are thrilled as they gather. But tragedy strikes: Tibby drowns before she sees them, and the women suspect suicide. Devastated, they return to their separate lives and stop communicating. But Tibby has left each a mysterious package with a letter asking for another gathering on April 2. Her force of will influence her friends to make the right decisions to find happiness. Carmen must find a way to be true to herself. Bridget must find purpose in her life and get over her fear of commitment. Lena must find a way not to fear love. The ending leaves just enough romantic wiggle room for one more installment. "
TIBBY DIES. I know! This is my girl. I love Tibby. And so does Brian and Bridget and Carmen and Lena. It's not the Sisterhood without Tibby.
It's like running into your old friend on the street, and them telling you that your other friend died. Suddenly, you're not talking about old boyfriends or old memories. Suddenly, you're in mourning. Suddenly, the whole book becomes about losing Tibby, missing Tibby, trying to find a future without Tibby.
I knew that this book would be both a blessing and a curse. It would great to spend a few more hours with my girls, but it probably wouldn't live up to my outrageously high expectations. When you grow apart from someone, it's easy to build them up in your mind. That's part of why it's so hard to run into them. They existed for so long in your imagination that it's hard to believe they have a real mortal presence. It's hard to accept that they've changed, that they're not the person you imagined, the person you want them to be.
But I didn't know this book would be so heartbreaking. I've lost a lot of friends in my life, but I'll never forget them. If anything bad ever happened to them, I would mourn the loss. Not the loss of the stranger that they had become, but the loss of the person who was so important to me, the person who I knew so well. And now, I have to prepare to mourn the loss of one of my very favourite literary heroines. We may not have seen each other in a long time, but she still held a place in my heart. They all did.
So, with a heavy heart, I say that the fifth book in the Ann Brashares' Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series is titled Sisterhood Everlasting, and it is coming out June 14 2011.