I recently reviewed the first four books in Ann Brashares’ Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, and today brings me to the final book, Sisterhood Everlasting. Spoilers ahead–not so much for this book, but for the previous ones, as is unavoidable when talking about much later events in the characters’ lives. You’ve been warned. I also warn you that this book is not as light as the previous ones (but I promise the ending is, mostly, a happy one).
Sisterhood Everlasting picks up ten years after the previous book, with the four girls about to turn 29. Carmen is living a glamorous, high-speed life as an actress in Manhattan, engaged to a news executive none of her friends like very much. Lena is an art teacher in New Jersey, a quiet homebody who avoids risks professionally and romantically. Bridget lives in San Francisco with her long-time boyfriend, but can’t seem to put down roots or settle into a career. And Tibby moved away to Australia with her boyfriend Brian a few years before, and has fallen strangely out of touch.
Then letters and plane tickets arrive from Tibby, inviting the other girls to a reunion in Greece. They set off, desperately eager to see their friend and bring the sisterhood together again…only to learn that Tibby arrived early, went swimming at the beach–and drowned. This devastating news is made worse by the discovery of a letter Tibby left behind, hinting that her death wasn’t an accident. Carmen, Lena and Bridget are shattered by this news, leading them to question their lives, their memories, and the truth about their sisterhood.
So–I warned you it was heavier, right? The book seems to have aged with the characters, and while it’s all still pretty mild in general for “grown-up” books, there are definitely more allusions to sex, more profanity, and darker subject matter.
The earlier books were about teenage girls finding themselves. This one is about twenty-somethings having a kind of quarter-life crisis. The Crisis is Tibby’s death, of course, but all three of the girls have had their lives go a bit off-track (or never quite get on track), and the Crisis just brings the smaller problems into sharper relief.
I thought the progression of Bridget’s and Lena’s lives made a lot of sense, as growing out of their character traits from the other books. I can see how they could stumble into the places they are–not exactly bad places, just not quite the places they could and should be in. Carmen’s path feels more out of left field. It does make sense with the events of the fourth book, but I’m not sure I see it as an out-growth of her personality like the other two. And Tibby…I can’t really talk about Tibby because, um, spoilers!
I started this book happy to spend more time with these characters after getting to know them in the previous four books. And at first, the book was exactly that…until the Crisis occurred. And then, to be honest, there was a section that became something of a slog. The girls grieve for a long time. Which, of course, they would, and I think I was more patient about that than some people in their lives…but I was frustrated by everything they didn‘t do.
There were a lot of unanswered questions that stayed unanswered for way too long, because no one was asking really obvious questions. Just to give you the set-up here, Tibby was together with Brian for over ten years, she was living with him in Australia, her friends are devastated by the possibility that she killed herself…but no one talks to Brian for months. I mean–really!!! Just call him!
Ultimately this book’s plot (and length) hinges on people hiding (or not asking for) information I can’t really believe they wouldn’t share. And that obviously is a rather large problem.
But–despite the frustration of that element, it did in the end give me what I was looking for. Answers to those unasked questions, but more importantly, greater resolution on what became of the girls I got to know in the previous books. Obviously not everything I found out was good (and I kind of wish I didn’t know about Tibby!) but by the end of the book, I was happy about the other three.
I’m glad I read this one…but while I could see rereading the other four as some fun, summer reading, I probably wouldn’t reread the last one! All this did make me want to re-watch the movies, though, so one more review will be coming before I finish with the Sisterhood. 🙂
Author’s Site: http://www.randomhouse.com/teens/annbrashares/
Buy it here: Sisterhood Everlasting