Sunday, 4 June 2017

A Review of The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants series

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants is a series of four by Ann Brashares. The four books are The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, The Second Summer of the Sisterhood, Girls in Pants and Forever in Blue. There is also a sequel book, Sisterhood Everlasting, which I will review in it's own post. The four girls, Lena Kaligaris, Bridget Vreeland, Tabitha "Tibby" Tomko Rollins and Carmen Lowell, have been best friends since before they were born. One summer, the girls are all going off to different places, but they find a pair of pants that fit all of them, despite having different body types. So, they decide to send the pants around to each other, as a way of keeping in touch.

The four girls are really quite different. Lena is artistic, quiet and shy. She is beautiful, and she knows it, but she actually wishes she was less so. I've always thought she was an interesting take on the "girl doesn't know she's beautiful" trope. Bridget likes sports, and is implusive, flighty and reckless. She acts rashly, without thinking about the consequences. Tibby is into film and often tends to act unfeeling to people. However, she does care deeply underneath the surface. Carmen has a temper and a propensity for drama. She's described as a math-geek in the first book, but I don't think that's mentioned again. I had been hoping she would find a career that allows her to use her maths skills to full effect, but at the end of the books she wants to be an actress. She does play into one of my least favourite tropes - the selfish, spoilt only child. I don't mind her having those traits, but the narrative tends to assume she's that way because she grew up without siblings. However, she is my favourite character. Distilling the girls down to a few personality traits downplays the many nuances and the development they go through over the books.

I think a lot of people agree that the first book was the best, and in the later books, I like individual story-lines more then the whole book. However, they are all worth checking out. In the second book, I liked Tibby's story the best, since she finally gets a chance to shine away from home. Lena and Carmen both get their best moments in the third book. And all the girls grow and develop in the fourth book, after being away at college for a year. One of the big problems with these sequels is that the girls tend to forget the lessons they learnt in previous books. However, it is implied that the girls (especially Carmen) are aware of where their behaviour can lead, they just struggle to keep their emotions in check. This is one thing - the girls are never perfect, and they behave like realistic human beings a lot of the time.

I can't write a review on these books without mentioning the movies. Both of them really captured the spirit of the books, treating the friendship between the girls with the importance it deserves. There are some changes in the movie that I didn't like. For example, Lena's complex relationship with Kostos was changed into a more standard Romeo and Juliet style tale. Overall, though, they are very well done film adaptations. And I love that the actresses have remained friends!

I recommend these to anyone who has ever had a group of close friends, and who might be looking for a summer read.

Sidenote - it's extremely weird for me to have written "pants" so many times in this review, considering pants in Britain mean... something completely different.

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