I’ve heard about this book for so many years—it almost feels as though I popped out from the womb knowing deep down that I would have to read this book someday. It’s on so many YA book lists, on everyone’s summer TBRs, and so many of my friends reference it constantly. The general premise of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is pretty obvious from its title; however, it feels so great to finally understand the details of what everyone has been talking about this entire time. But despite all the glowing, sun-kissed, bubbly hype this book often receives, I was left with mixed feelings about it. Here are some good things and some not so good things about this quintessential summer YA novel:
+ Nostalgia. As someone who recently graduated college and has just experienced my first summer knowing I won’t be returning to all of my friends in the fall, this book hit home. Not only did it make me miss my college days already, but it also brought me back to high school times when things were simpler and problems were a bit easier to resolve than they are now. And constantly being surrounded by a close group of friends? Nothing can replace that.
+ Tibby’s section. Tibby’s storyline was my favorite of the bunch. It was funny and clever and heart-warming and heart-breaking because all along you get a vibe that whatever happens with Bailey in the end just can’t be good. I’d argue that Tibby experiences the most character growth out of all the friends, in the sense that her arch has a beginning, middle, and destination point. The other girls obviously also experience some growth, but not in as clear a way as Tibby. And the banter between her and Bailey is just hilarious.
+ The allure of magical jeans. Who doesn’t want a pair of magical pants that not only makes them look amazing, but also fits all of their best friends perfectly? Jeans like these may even be enough to get me to stop hating shopping for pants. The whole premise of this story is so simple yet so creative—you can’t help but be sucked in right from the beginning.
The Not So Good
– Bridget’s section. Okay, Older Soccer Guy deserves an honorary I Am Trash award FOREVER. What the $#@&?!?!?! She has this unsettling, uncomfortable emotional reaction to having sex and all he can say is “You should have been more up front with me about whether or not this would make me look like an @$$hole,” “Maybe we can do this again in the future when I don’t feel so much like a pedophile,” “You put me in a weird position with my job as a coach here,” etc. (Okay, so those weren’t his exact words, but you get the gist.) This whole scene is wrong on so many levels. I wish Brashares had made it clearer that although Bridget did put herself out there in this situation, this guy’s response was not okay either. He is not the victim in this situation, even though he makes himself sound like one. It’s a tricky scenario, one that I think should have been written about with better care and a clear direction or intent in mind. Its fuzziness makes it all the more uncomfortable to read about.
– The pacing, especially towards the end. The horrible last scene with Bridget and the soccer coach is an example of how the pacing in this book is rushed. So many things seem rushed at the end: Bridget dealing with her feelings about losing her virginity, Tibby dealing with her grief, Carmen’s recovered relationship with her father and his new family, and Lena’s sudden romance with Kostos. Maybe all of these loose ends are tied up in the rest of the series? Either way, the ending felt sudden in abrupt, almost as though the book was missing a chapter.
Overall, I enjoyed reading The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants for the first time, despite some of my problems with it. I do wish I had read it when I was in high school because I’m so intrigued to know what Past Holly would have thought of it. I think this is one of those books where my response to it will particularly change over time. I can see how I would have related to parts of it more when I was younger, and that there are parts that I definitely relate to now more than I would have years ago. I love books that change with you over time, so maybe there’s something to be said for that quality of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Long story short, would recommend.
Have you ever read The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants? Would you recommend continuing on with the rest of the series? How old were you when you first read this book? Let me know in the comments section below!