Monday, 5 June 2017

A Review of Sisterhood Everlasting

Sisterhood Everlasting is a book by Ann Brashares, as a sequel to The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants series. Set ten years on from the events of Forever in Blue, we catch up with the girls and find they've scattered all over the map. Tibby is in Australia with Brian. Lena is in Providence, finding work as an artist. Bridget is in California with Eric, and Carmen is in New York, finding work as an actress. Under a cut, because I can't review this book without talking about that spoiler. This was a hard review to do, because while I don't absolutely love this book, I also don't dislike it as much as a lot of people do.
Tibby dies.

And I understand that it's always a brave decision for an author to kill one of their main characters, and that Brashares probably had some deep-seated literary reason for doing so. But I picked this book up wanting a feel-good novel like the previous books, and instead I had my heart ripped out my chest. And it worked as a way to get the other three girls character development and to rekindle their friendship, but did it really have to come at Tibby's expense?

I've never liked how people assume female friendships will always fall apart as women get older. This was my biggest issue with this book as a whole, actually. In my review of the original series, I noticed that the girls often seem to forget the lessons learnt in the previous books. Here, that holds true of the whole book.

Lena is still carrying a torch for Kostos, despite not seeing him for so long. Honestly, I can understand this, although maybe not to the extent she was shown to here. He was her first love, during her tempestuous teenage years, and their time together was at a very turbulent time in her life. Their break-up was also very tumultuous, and under bad circumstances. And it's really not like the only thing she's been doing over the course of her life is pining for him. She's a professor at RISD.

Bridget is living with Eric. She is having issues with her mental health over the course of this book, somewhat triggered by Tibby's death. I wouldn't like to comment on how realistic a depiction her issues are. I can comment on some types of mental health, but not really on the one she most likely has (bipolar disorder)? I also know that mental health and it's symptoms are different in every individual. But the one thing I will mention is the anti-abortion message within her story. I don't mind women deciding not to have an abortion in their own terms. But I do care when it's done with the heavy-handed language that is used here.

But the character I most want to talk about is Carmen.

Over the course of this book, Carmen realises that she struggles to love, particularly her romantic interests. This doesn't mean she's unfeeling - as she said, she can feel a deep affection for people. If people remember her relationship with Porter in the second book, she often had a hard time connecting with him, so I don't feel it came too far out of left field. It helped me come to terms with similar issues I had, before I had a name for it. How many times has a woman in literature ever realised that she doesn't like relationships and really doesn't enjoy having a man in her life?

Carmen is aromantic and asexual, or at least I choose to interpret her as such, one of the first ones I ever read about, and it came from a character I spent my teenage years reading about. As someone who is asexual (not aromantic, but pretty close to it) it meant a lot to me to read.

This is one book I would struggle to recommend to people who I didn't know personally. Fans of the series tend not to like this book, and other people on the aro-ace spectrum might pick up on some of the issues I didn't when I first read it. Oh, and let's not even mention the ending.

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