Sunday, April 01, 2012

Book #9 of 2012: Sisterhood Everlasting

(In case you're wondering if you missed Book #8 of 2012, you didn't.  I reread Ann Brashares' Forever In Blue: The Fourth Summer of Sisterhood so that I'd be prepared to enjoy this one.  I didn't feel like I needed to write a review of a reread.)

Ann Brashares' Sisterhood Everlasting is the long-awaited conclusion to her Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, which I first read in college (and felt guilty back then to be an "intellectual" English major enjoying YA lit on the side).  The four books of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants follow four teenage girls (Bridget, Carmen, Lena, and Tibby) who have been best friends since birth through their growing-up experiences.  I initially loved this series because of the closeness of the friendships among the four characters, their deep and utter love for one another.  They embody all that friendship should be.

Sisterhood Everlasting revisits the characters 10 years after Forever in Blue.  I have to say that I was initially very, very disappointed by this book.  Those touchstone friendships that kept me reading and loving the four earlier books had deteriorated over the years.  Realistically, I know that this happens.  I was blessed by having the best group of friends in the world, my wonderful Clan, during my own high school years, and while adulthood hasn't made me love those people any less, it has lessened our communication and shared experiences.  This simple phenomenon of growing up has happened to the Sisterhood as well, and it left me saddened, wishing that something as beautiful as what they had could have endured.  And Tibby has withdrawn from the friendship, barely communicating with the others, and a certain amount of mystery shrouds her current life.  Then tragedy strikes, and the Sisterhood is essentially dissolved.

Honestly, I would have given up on this book about 100 pages in if it wasn't for my friend Andrea, who read it before me and kept reassuring me that the ending was worth it.  The book just made me so, so sad.  All four girls' lives were frankly a mess, and it totally erased the happy, hopeful, serene note that Forever in Blue ended on.  Partway through, I decided that one major problem with this book (at least from my perspective) is that it is NOT young adult lit.  This was definitely a book written for the audience that enjoyed The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 10+ years ago... and that audience is now adults, and this is an adult book.

I spent essentially the last 200 pages (of 349) of this book sobbing as I read.  There was so much sadness, and yet I'm really glad that I kept reading.  The end of the book was definitely worth it, and it restored that sense of serene hopefulness from the earlier books... but it definitely took some rough spots to get there.

So would I recommend this book?  That's a tough one.  I think that only a true fan of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series would appreciate it.  If you choose to read it, be prepared for adult fiction instead of YA.  And don't give up in the middle (though you may be tempted), because the end is worth it.

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