The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants series is shaping up to be one of my favorites. It’s one of few young-adult contemporary books I like.
It’s the third summer of the sisterhood and the girls — Carmen, Bee, Lena, Tibby — are preparing to go to college. They’ve all decided on schools that are a few miles from each other and are looking forward to new experiences, but are worried about what they’ll leave behind.
In this installment, Bee is dealing with boy trouble at a soccer camp where she’s a coach, Lena is sneaking to take art classes after her father sees her drawing a naked dude, Carmen is babysitting Lena’s grandma while plotting against her mom (as always) and trying to catch the eye of a cute guy, and Tibby is hiding from her problems and trying to hold onto her old life before moving on to a new one.
My thoughts: (minor spoilers)
These books are quick reads so there’s not much for me to say. I wanted to review both this and the fourth book at the same time, like I did with the first and second, but wasn’t able to borrow and read the fourth in time. This story was another fun read and I’m a little surprised to find that I still enjoy the story. I admire the girls’ friendship and how they are steadfast in their relationship with each other. I wonder if their friendship will remain strong when they go to college because that experience changes people and sometimes alters friendships.
Despite the almost formulaic way the books are written, I’m hooked on them and I like that in each book the girls have problems of their own that they resolve with either physical or emotional support from the others. Though the problems are sometimes highly dramafied and often can be resolved if there was more communication between the girls and their family, I still enjoy reading about it instead of becoming annoyed with the characters.
The exception, of course, is Carmen, who intentionally seeks ways to be mean to her mother and punish her mother for imagined slights. I understand that Carmen takes her mother’s love for granted and is harder on her mother because she expects her mother to love her unconditionally, but that is no excuse for the awful things Carmen does and say to her. And I was a bit annoyed when Carmen made an attempt at self-reflection because that was done because she wanted to be honest with the guy she likes, not because she thought she should be kinder to her mom.
Carmen is not always mean and there are moments when she is very considerate, even to her mom, but when she is mean, she’s really horrible. However, I admire how resourceful she is and great at managing stressful situations.
Though Bee is similar to Carmen, outspoken and resourceful, she’s not vindictive. Bee is my favorite character because she’s full of life, though she does have low moments (I suspect she is manic depressive). I like her development throughout the series and love that she returns to a similar place (soccer camp) in this one so we can see how much she has matured. I also like her way of handling situations. Instead of being vindictive and passive aggressive like some people (Carmen), she prefers to be honest and tackle conflicts directly by talking about the issue. I really appreciated seeing how much she has grown.
Actually, by the end of the story, we see that girls have matured in some way. Lena took charge of the direction of her life, which I admired; both Bee and Carmen matured, but Bee’s growth is more obvious than Carmen’s; and Tibby… I guess Tibby learned to take chances. She spent most of the story worried about her sister and feeling guilty.
Tibby didn’t stand out in this one. She could easily have been written out, but I sympathized with her because she was puzzling out her thoughts on identity and mortality. However Lena’s story stood out to me because it’s centered on art and how art, creating and experiencing it, can be cathartic. Her family’s reactions to what she drew and how they modelled for her almost made me cry (I might have shed a tear).
Same too her grandmother’s story. It was obvious the grandma was homesick and mourning and I felt so bad for her. I certainly believe that how a person feels about where they live have a significant impact on their health and wellness. My parents, who look and act pretty young for their age, are older when in the U.S. Whenever they go to Jamaica, they seem younger and less pressured despite the stress they sometimes feel when returning there. They seem to gain more vitality when they return to their birth country.
Okay, only two more things and then I’m done (and I said I didn’t have much to say. Ha!). The second one might be a major spoiler:
- The girls’ relationship with their mothers seem to be improving a little and I hope that continues.
- The way Lena’s dad reacted to her getting a scholarship for art school didn’t make sense to me. He so adamantly opposed her studying the subject that I expected him to argue when he learned of Lena’s intentions, but we weren’t told if he was informed that Lena was applying for a scholarship. We learn of this at the end when Lena informs him that she got it and he basically just said “good job” but in a “I’m so proud of you” sort of way. I expected some resistance at first.
Another quick, fun read and I still enjoy the characters and their families and seeing how they develop over the summer. I look forward to the next book.