The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares, 294 pages, Delacorte Press, 2001.

4/5 stars

Taken from back cover:

“Four very different friends. One pair of magical pants. And a summer apart…

We, the Sisterhood, hereby instate the following rules to govern the use of the Traveling Pants:

1. You must never wash the Pants.

2. You must never double-cuff the Pants. It’s tacky. There will never be a time when this will not be tacky.

3. You must never say the word “phat” while wearing the Pants. You must also never think “I am fat” while wearing the Pants.

4. You must never let a boy take off the Pants (although you may take them off yourself in his presence).

5. You must not pick your nose while wearing the Pants. You may, however, scratch casually at your nostril while really kind of picking.

6. Upon our reunion, you must follow the proper procedures for documenting your time in the Pants.

7. You must write to your Sisters throughout the summer, no matter how much fun you are having without them.

8. You must pass the Pants along to your Sisters according to the specifications set down by the Sisterhood. Failure to comply will result in a severe spanking upon our reunion.

9. You must not wear the pants with a tucked-in shirt and belt. See rule #2.

10. Remember: Pants = love. Love your pals. Love yourself.”

Continue on to my review after the break.

Let’s discuss what happens in this book.

When we first meet the Sisterhood (that is, Lena, Bridget, Carmen and Tibby), they are all about to embark on their first summer apart since birth. Before their departure, each of the girls try on a single pair of pants that shouldn’t be able to fit all of them (they all have varying body types and heights) but magically does. The girls see the Pants as a sign, and decide to mail them to each other through out the summer as a way of invoking a bit of magic into their lives, and as a means of staying together while so far apart. And so, they go.

Lena, the strikingly beautiful yet shy member of the group, flies to Greece with her little sister to spend time with their grandparents whom they have never met. Upon her arrival, Lena’s grandmother immediately begins trying to hook Lena up with Kostos. Convinced that no boy could possibly have honorable intentions, Lena decides to completely write him off.

Bridget, the energetic and reckless member, heads to a summer-long summer came in Baja California, where she meets Eric – the totally off-limits but completely sexy soccer coach who she decides will be hers by the end of the summer.

Carmen, the mother hen member of the group, goes to South Carolina to spend an entire summer with her father, who she has all to herself. However, Carmen learns that her father has a new fiancee and family, and Carmen has to figure out how she fits in to this new part of her Dad’s life.

And Tibby. Poor Tibby is the only one who remains at home that summer, completely abandoned by her friends and enslaved to Wallman’s – the local drugstore. Tibby fully expected to spend her summer absolutely miserable until she meets an incredible little girl who completely changes her perspective.

So, what did I think?

I loved it. 

I am a really big fan of the movie so I kind of knew what I was getting myself into when I picked up this book. The general story line is very similar but holy crap… The book is 100 times better! I was expecting a carefree and fun summer read… and while it was definitely fun, it was also surprisingly sweet, thoughtful, charming, and, at times, heart breaking.

The first thing that struck me about this book was how  believable  the girls were. So often I find that chick-lit characters (in YA) are either over the top with their bad assery (yep), or completely hollow shells that follow cute boys around like zombies in pursuit of brains. Each of the girls had her own voice and remained true to it, despite the situations that they got themselves into. And because they were believable, I could love them… and I really grew to care about each of them. Half of the time I wanted to slap them upside the head… but their decisions made sense because of who they are.

And the situations that they found themselves in (or, in Bridget’s case, put herself in) were also in line with what a 15 year old girl may face. Brashares did an amazing job of pulling me along with each of the girls. I felt their excitements, frustrations, and sorrows which was surprising coming from a book that I didn’t expect to carry much weight.

And Bailey! Oh, Bailey. I can’t write a review without mentioning her! (Bailey is the little girl who Tibby spends her summer with). I was so surprised at how emotional I felt about her. She was so sweet and caring and insightful and… ugh. I will miss her so much when I continue on with the series.

So, yeah. 4/5 stars. I loved it and I recommend it to anyone who enjoyed any Sarah Dessen novels, the Jessica Darling series, the Princess Diaries series, or anyone who watched the movie (and liked it).

Next up? Jane! 

Until next time, happy reading!

Oh, PS – I wanted to share two quotes from the book that I fell in love with.

(Bailey is speaking)

“I’m afraid of time… I mean, I’m afraid of not having enough time…Not enough time to understand people, how they really are, or to be understood myself. I’m afraid of the quick judgments and mistakes that everybody makes. You can’t fix them without time. I’m afraid of seeing snapshots instead of movies.” p. 174 (How can you not love her?)

“Maybe happiness didn’t have to be about the big, sweeping circumstances, about having everything in your life in place. Maybe it was about stringing together a bunch of small pleasures…Maybe happiness was just a matter of the little upticks…and downticks…Maybe it didn’t matter if you were a world-famous heartthrob or a painful geek. Maybe it didn’t matter if your friend was possibly dying. Maybe you just got through it. Maybe that was all you could ask for.” p. 282