The Sisterhood of Travelling Pants: Summer of the Sisterhood {Book 1} by Ann Brashares

Amazon Synopsis: Carmen, Tibby, Lena and Bridget have been best friends all their lives. They live in the same small American town and usually spend every moment of their long summer holidays together. The year they turn 16 is the first time they have separate plans for the summer but the girls are determined to keep in touch. Tibby buys a pair of jeans in a second-hand shop and the girls discover that the trousers magically fit each of them perfectly, despite their different figures and heights. They hit upon a wonderful plan of sharing the jeans throughout the vacation - sending them on to the next friend when they feel the time is right.

From Baja California to Greece, from film-making to football, the girls - and the traveling pants - encounter first love, family upset and fatal illness. Secure in the knowledge that their friendship is constant - and the symbol of it need never be more than a parcel-delivery away - the girls survive their summer and return home with a wealth of new experiences to share.

This was part of my summer reads that I didn't get around to. It seemed fun, light and short (it's only 305 pages in this edition) so I bought it about a month ago. I bought it because I found the films really feel good but I wasn't too fussed about reading it any time soon.

Since I am back at school now, life is a bit hectic but I decided to fit it in between my school work and give it a go.
It took me about a week and a bit to get through this book, which is a lot longer than I thought it would since this week I had a lot of free time in between lessons.

First of all I am going to point out the really sweet cover art that this edition has (picture above). It seems really summery with the flowers and kind of sums up the book in a perfect way. The book continues this kind of inspirational, summer theme inside by putting quotes before each chapter which I thought was a nice touch but I did stop reading them properly after about chapter 7.

The structure of the narrative was not something I liked. It gave each character about a paragraph in each chapter before showing a note from one to another. This seems to want to convey that it is all happening at the same time but it seemed a bit jumbled and the notes did not really involve any order, or relevance, sometimes.

Since this sort of has 4 separate stories with such different characters, I will do each one on its own:

Bridget - Bridget's story followed her to a football (soccer for Americans) boot camp in Baja, California. Bridget is the free spirit who cannot stay still for more that 5 minutes and is driven to achieve her goals. Unfortunately she wants the coach of a rival team and won't go down without a fight. This story could have been funny and sweet but I just found Bridget annoying. She didn't care that the guy she was going after could have been in serious trouble and she tended to have a tantrum when things didn't go her way. I was happy with the way it ended though because it seemed to have been something she learnt from, which is always good.

Carmen- This was actually a really emotive storyline and everything she did was understandable. It follows her to stay with her dad expecting a summer of bonding but instead gets a new step-family and surprise wedding. To many readers it is a super relatable storyline and covers some touching issues. When you look at it from an outside point of view it doesn't seem that way but when you have had to deal with parents divorcing and then marrying again to another family, it becomes a sort of memoir. I did think she cried a lot and from previous reviews some of you may know I hate that with a passion but overall I thought her parts were really good, not always perfectly written but enjoyable.

Lena- This is the girl I wish I was. Personality wise we are pretty similar but my extended family does not live on a gorgeous Greek island that I get to visit and fall in love with  a hunky Greek guy. Lena's story kind of consists of a big misunderstanding and some hilarious grandparents. I think she was a likable character but she whined a lot about little things and was a bit of a coward. At least she admitted it though!

Tibby- My favourite character story. This arch was quite heartbreaking but not as heartbreaking as it could have been. I was also a little bit freaked out when she put her dead guinea pig in the freezer...
Tibby is the one stuck at home whilst her friends enjoy their summer, and as Lena was the girl I wish I was, Tibby is the girl I am. She is blunt, moody and hates the low pay job she has for the summer. When a 12-year-old girl called Bailey collapses in the store Tibby works at they form an unlikely friendship which involves some banter and heartwarming moments. Probably the most mundane of the story lines but the most effective of them all.

Now I am going to be a pain and compare it to the movie but something that bugged me with the book was how little I empathised. In the movie, I felt for the characters whereas in the book I thought they were too selfish and whiny. Bridget annoyed me in both so we will exempt her from this.

Overall, it would have been better a chapter per character, less crying and emotions handled less awkwardly. It does what it says on the tin - Provides an entertaining summer read without too much thinking involved. I will probably read the rest of the series.


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