I was at the cusp of age twelve when I read the first book in Ann Brashares’ The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. Of course, I fell in love with the book (and still love it now). The friendship of Carmen, Lena, Bridget and Tibby were ones that I held dear to my heart. I was in awe of Bridget’s fearlessness, equal parts frustrated and understanding with Lena’s timidity, related a little too much to Carmen’s bad temper, and was humored by Tibby’s sarcastic outlook on life. I related to these girls; some better than others, but I related to each of them somehow all the same.
Then the second book in the series came out, and surprisingly the focus expanded from the four girls’ lifelong friendship to include that of their mothers. After all, it was through their mother’s aerobics class for pregnant women that they all met and that the girls became friends. The third and fourth books continued to intertwine the stories of the girls and their family’s backstories, enriching how I could relate to these girls and understand them better as characters.
Throughout high school, I reread these books and always related staunchly to the girls. If there were fights or misunderstandings with the mothers, I always sided with the daughter. Of course Carmen is mad at you, Christina! I would think when Carmen’s poor mother was yet again the victim of Carmen’s bad temper. Ari, can’t you see how unhappy Lena’s dad is making her?
The last book in the Traveling Pants series, Sisterhood Everlasting, is set 10 years after the fourth book, which took place the summer after their freshman year in college. Funnily enough, by the time I got around to reading Sisterhood Everlasting it was roughly 10 years after I had read the first Traveling Pants book.
To refresh my memory, I reread the entire series before reading the final book. To my astonishment, I found myself siding with the mothers just as much as I did with the daughters. At the age of 22, it seems as though I have a little more wisdom, understanding and knowledge of mother-daughter dynamics and the ways of the world than I did at age 12. While that’s how it should be (and it’s comforting to know I am much more grown up than I was 10 years ago!) I can’t help but think that the way Sisterhood Everlasting portrays the ways the girls have and haven’t changed over the last 10 years are a reflection of my own life, and all the ways I, too, have and haven’t changed over the years.
It’s funny how books and characters can grow, change, but also stay the same with you.
Manda is a recent college graduate beginning her career in public relations. A world traveler, she’s always dreaming about her next travel destination, although her home city of Hong Kong will always hold a special place in her heart. Other things she’s passionate about include books, cupcakes, makeup and tea. She has a tendency to listen to her favorite songs on repeat and has been known to crave noodles at 2 a.m. She can be found on Twitter and Facebook.