18 March 2022

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

I saw this on a bargain table at Indigo before Christmas and I had no idea this book even existed. Scott was kind enough to throw it in my stocking and I read it as a safe haven after I quit The Push by Ashley Audrain earlier this year because of it's horrific plotline. If you're a 91' baby or close to like moi then the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants series largely defined your adolescent years - I spent weeks practicing letters in a notebook to make my writing look like Lena's - and I  thought it was important to see the stories play out even after all this time.

The story picks up ten years after the last travelling pants, Forever in Blue. The tone feels different immediately because the girls aren't together. They have separate lives, careers, families, etc. and the characters feel tired and lonely- common adjectives for adulthood I suppose. Carmen is a c-list crime drama star in NYC, Tibby and Brian moved to New Zealand for him to work on an app that's about to take off, Lena teaches at the art school and has a boring boyfriend, and Bridget is still nomad-ing her way around California. They all decide to meet in Greece for a vacation and to help close up Lena's late grandparents' home and get it ready to sell.

There's a death in the beginning that sets the whole book off kilter and initially made me wish I hadn't read it. It felt so wrong at the time and so in opposition to the books as I remembered them. But then I kept on and the pieces began to fall into place, the stories began to connect, and I began to see why Brashares killed the character she did in the way she did. 

Grief was like a newborn, and the first three months were hard as hell, but by six months you'd recognized defeat, shifted your life around, and made room for it.”

My favourite plotline was likely Bridget's. At one point she is playing caregiver to Tibby's toddler aged daughter and there was something so beautiful about the way they bonded that I cried reading parts of it. I think having a toddler likely helped connect me to this plot. My least favourite was Carmen's (isn't it always, lol?). She's battling career pressure to marry a network exec that isn't totally right for her and I just couldn't relate less. Meg and I have a joke that we always pictured ourselves as Lena's (we have illusions of grandeur), but in reality I am a Carmen and she is a Tibby.

I was up until 3am to finish this one night, needing so badly to see how it all wrapped up. I very rarely get this caught up in something that it gets prioritized over my sleep. It was good, but it won't make a 'best of' list anytime soon and I really can't put my finger on why this was such a midnight page-turner for me but I can't deny the obvious nostalgia that's at play here. Show me one early 90's chick who isn't dying to know if Lena and Kostos end up together and I will show you a liar.

look how cool they are, I would still kill to be their friend

These girls meant so much to me growing up that it's almost embarrassing now, but I know I'm not the only one. To remember the way I used to glorify them and to see them now, failing, for lack of a better word, at adulthood, was like wrapping myself in a warm blanket. I wish I could read how all my favourite adolescent book characters turned out as adults, but also maybe not...

She forgot everything instantly. as though she had no memory apparatus at all. But in a sick-feeling way, she also knew her eyes and her ears were taking these things in and keeping them. These images and words would be there waiting for her, settling into some deeper layer that would someday resurface- maybe that night, maybe tomorrow, maybe months or years from now- and make her feel crazy and scared. They would sneak into her dreams and fracture in weird ways that would make her dislike a certain kind of car she couldn't remember having ridden in, or the particular perfume on a person she didn't remember speaking to, or the taste of a certain cup of tea she didn't remember drinking. Oh you'll remember them."

If you are familiar with this series I think you would like this. It ends tidily, despite a rocky start, and it is so nice to see them all as grown-ups. I don't know that it's worth reading without the prior four. I had never thought to look into any adult content (as in not young adult you sickos) by Brashares but I've added more of her novels to my reading list now. I'm not totally sure why I was surprised how much I liked her writing because I was obviously obsessed with this series. Not everything holds good to me so many years later but this did. 

No comments:

Post a Comment