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Estelle: Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann BrasharesSisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: June 14, 2011
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 349
Target audience: Mature YA/adult
Keywords: friendship, marriage, secrets, traveling pants
Format read: Paperback I bought.

Summary: A return to the friendship of Lena, Carmen, Tibby, and Bridget — four girls connected by their long history together and also a pair of pants that seemed to magically fit all of them for a few summers in a row. So what has happened now that all of them have become true grown ups?

I bought this book on a whim this past week because I was looking for some inspiration for writing a matron of honor speech. While I didn’t use any quotes from the book like I was originally planning to, it felt so fitting to spend some free time revisiting four friendships that really shaped my childhood as I prepped for the wedding of my best friend — a gal I’ve known since I was 5 years old. (Ironically my best friend has my original copy from when I lent it to her.)

I, first, read Sisterhood Everlasting when it was initially released in 2011. I remember I was totally frozen in place on my couch in our old house reading and reading until I got through the whole thing in one night. I just had to see how it ended. I’m happy to say that book was just as addicting the second time around, even if it is surprisingly sad.

Even though the girls (who I thought of as the next-gen Baby-Sitters Club) went through a fair share of drama through high school and college, I always thought the book boasted about the positivity of female friendships. So to experience such a change in Sisterhood Everlasting where the girls are all living in separate places, not getting together very frequently,  Tibby totally MIA, and dating people the others don’t approve of — as a dedicated fan of the series, you feel genuinely gutted.

“Growing up is hard on friendships,” Carmen says in the very beginning.

I know with too much experience how true this statement can be but part of me was hoping for the happily ever after scenario for these four. But Brashares has the opportunity to showcase some top notch writing because of this choice — the grown up thoughts (Is this who I really want to marry? Am I really happy in this job? Why do things not feel like they used to?), the small nods to the past, and even the gorgeous imagery (I need to get to Greece) — that she wasn’t always able to use when writing for a younger audience. Like the girls, her writing most definitely matured.

With Carmen an actress in NYC, Lena teaching in Rhode Island, Bee unable to settle down in California, and Tibby off in Australia — the girls are unable to find the common ground they once had with each other (even after the pants went missing). When Tibby surprises them with a reunion in Greece, the three feel this is what they really need until they arrive in Greece and things totally spiral out of control. When the girls go their separate ways once again, it feels like all hope is lost until each of them embark on their own journey undoubtably leading them to answer the same question: can they regain what they had and move forward together?

While I didn’t always agree with Brashares’ characterizations (I don’t think Carmen could ever be a size zero or tone down her Latina pride; Lena just seemed way TOO sad and isolated), I do think she did well when it came to capturing the spirits of these characters we love and showing just how much time can change us — to the point where we might not even recognize ourselves. It’s tough to see on the page, but almost necessary, because there are so many factors that come into play when it comes to friendships, too many distractions, and at some point, friendship takes a little bit more of a push than it has to when you were kids hanging out in the same neighborhood every day.

Whether you remember reading the Sisterhood series way back when or you are looking for a book about female friendships that run deep, Sisterhood Everlasting provides a roller coaster of heartbreaking, sweet, and honest moments as so many realizations are made. For me, it was so nice to spend 300 more pages reuniting with some of my favorite girls with the added reassurance that fighting for friendships is so important.

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June 19, 2013 - 4:42 am

Maggie, Young Adult Anonymous - This series surprised me so much and I ended up loving it. I was worried about this book after reading Sweet Valley Confidential, but I thought Brashares did such a wonderful job, even with the shocking (to me) plot twists. It just hit me in the heart and the gut. Loved the friendships and how they evolved throughout the series. Great review, Estelle. And judging from your Instagram pics, the wedding was gorgeous too!

June 17, 2013 - 10:46 pm

Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life - I remember reading these books a reeeally long time ago, but I don’t remember which book I stopped on (I think is the one right before this one, actually!). It’s so sad how these friends have really grown apart, but I think that’s realistic, actually. Some of the characterization does seem off (Carmen was always a bit proud of her curves- I don’t see her as being a size 0!), I think this is a great book on friendship, in general. I’m definitely going to have to pick this one up to see how things end with this lovely group of girls.

Amazing review, Estelle! <3

-Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life

June 17, 2013 - 4:42 pm

Alexa Y. - I haven’t read this one yet, mostly because I felt wary about it. But I trust your judgment – and I’m curious to see what’s become of all four girls. There’s something interesting about seeing them grow up and be adults and I feel like I might find it very easy to relate to.

June 17, 2013 - 4:41 pm

Annie - Oh dear, how much this book made me cry! The Sisterhood felt so real to me and it was heartbreaking to finally see it come to an end. And I love thinking back on all the adventures Lena, Tibby, Carmen and Bee had together. It’s so uplifting and makes me have hope that I’ll still be close to my friends even through all the obstacles and challenges.

June 17, 2013 - 12:17 pm

Sharon @ The Book Barbies - Wow! This book sounds completely different than I expected! While I was initially very excited at the prospect of another Sisterhood book, I wound up chickening out and not reading it. If I remember correctly, I wasn’t that crazy about the fourth book. didn’t know if this book would make it better or worse, and I didn’t want to risk it.

While it seems like this book is definitely a little more difficult to read than the others, I think I’m going to put it back on the TBR. 🙂

June 17, 2013 - 11:54 am

Jen - It’s hard to believe that the first novel in the series, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, was published twelve years ago. Does that ever make me feel old! Like you, I can still remember being glued to the pages when I read the first novel in the series all those years ago. I didn’t realize that there were third and fourth instalments, although I remember quite a lot of publicity surrounding the publication of Sisterhood Everlasting when one of the major plot developments in the novel was spoiled online. It sounds like this novel may hit a little too close to home for me. I’m definitely at the age where I’m finding it a struggle to nurture old friendships while also trying to make new ones. I think that’s definitely a common theme for many people in their 20’s. You desperately try to hold onto your old friends with both hands but sometimes it doesn’t seem like there’s anything you can do to keep them from slipping away. Like you, I wasn’t fond of some of the character developments I had heard about, particularly regarding Carmen’s character. I’m not sure I can work up the interest to read the final three novels in this series, although it would be nice to have a sense of closure for the characters.

June 17, 2013 - 10:21 am

Candice @ The Grown-Up YA - First off, I LOVE that you’re still friends with someone you’ve known since you were 5! So sweet! I haven’t read any of the Sisterhood books, despite owning the first two and LOVING the movies. I really would love to get into this series and connect with the girls, especially knowing there’s so many in this series! Great review!

June 17, 2013 - 8:44 am

Ginger @ GReads! - Ya know, I have never read these books, but I did see the movie. When they were published, I was a bit older (plus I wasn’t exactly reading at the time either). “Growing up is hard on friendships” is very true. I remember thinking I’d always be close to the girls I was inseparable with in high school. 14 years later, I only talk to two of the girls — and it’s not as often as I’d like. It’s hard to keep relationships, especially friendships, when everyone grows in such different directions. I really admire people who can keep friends from their childhoods. It’s rare and oh so special.

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