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Brashares, Ann 1967–

Ann Brashares
1967–

INTRODUCTION
PRINCIPAL WORKS
AUTHOR COMMENTARY
TITLE COMMENTARY
FURTHER READING

American author of young adult novels and juvenile biographies.

The following entry presents an overview of Brashares's career through 2005.

INTRODUCTION

Using the premise of a "magical" pair of pants passed between friends, Brashares created a best-selling series for young adults with The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2001) and its subsequent sequels, The Second Summer of the Sisterhood (2003) and Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood (2005). Centering on the lives of four teenage girls, the novels demonstrate the bond between the friends and illustrate the experiences associated with the adolescence and burgeoning maturity of young women. The protagonists—life-long friends—pledge to send a pair of secondhand jeans from friend to friend the first summer they are to be separated. These traveling pants thus take on a metaphoric quality, uniting the best friends across the thousands of miles separating them. The pants have ten rules concerning the possessor; the tenth rule sums up their symbolic connection to the girls' friendship: "10. Remember: Pants = love. Love your pals. Love yourself."

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

Brashares was born in 1967, in Alexandria, Virginia. She grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland, and attended Sidwell Friends, a small Quaker school on the outskirts of Washington D.C., with her three brothers. After finishing secondary school, she enrolled at Barnard College in New York City and earned her B.A. in philosophy. Her goal was to continue her education and earn a Masters degree in philosophy, but Brashares decided to take a year off from school to earn money towards her education expenses. She took an editing job, and her experiences in this position made her reconsider continuing her education; she instead chose to pursue a career in publishing. Her first experience as a published author came in 2001 with Linus Torvalds: Software Rebel and Steve Jobs: Think Different, two nonfiction children's biographies about noted computer designers, which initially began as editing projects. Brashares eventually took over both projects and was credited as the final author. The concept for The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants came from Brashares's co-worker at 17th Street Productions, whom recounted a pair of jeans that she had shared with a group of friends when she was a teen. Brashares was intrigued by the idea, eventually turning it into the manuscript for her first novel. The book quickly became a best-seller, and in 2005, Warner Brothers released a film adaptation of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, directed by Ken Kwapis. Brashares currently resides in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband, Jacob Collins, and their three children.

MAJOR WORKS

Brashares's first two works, Linus Torvalds: Software Rebel and Steve Jobs: Think Different, were install-ments in the "Techies" series by Twenty-First Century Books, and each contained a brief biography of the two technological innovators. With The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Brashares published her first work of fiction, focusing on four female teenage friends who face their first-ever separation during a summer vacation. Carmen will travel to South Carolina to stay with her father, Lena travels to Greece to visit her grandparents, Bridget journeys to Mexico for soccer camp, and Tibby remains in Washington D.C., pursuing a part-time summer job. The girls are linked by their years of friendship, correspondence, and a "magical" pair of pants—a pair of pants that looks good on each of the girls, even though they all have different physical builds. They decide that each girl will wear the pants for one week and then send it to the next friend, ensuring that the pants will travel twice around the group during the summer. As it turns out, each girl can definitely use the comfort of the pants as they experience a myriad of family and emotional struggles over the summer: Carmen has a difficult time adjusting to her divorced father's new family; Lena falls in love while in Greece; Bridget tries to seduce one of her camp counsellors; and Tibby becomes acquainted with mortality when she befriends a prickly local youth who is diagnosed with cancer. In The Second Summer of the Sisterhood, the four friends are now sixteen years old and again journey in different directions for the summer. This year, Carmen stays home and must deal with her jealousy over her mother's new romantic interest, while Tibby attends a film camp and contends with the anxieties associated with peer pressure. Meanwhile, Lena is reacquainted with the boy she left behind in Greece, deciding how far to let the relationship progress, and Bridget travels to Alabama and begins an incognito relationship with her estranged grandmother to find out information about her deceased mother. Brashares continues to examine the joys of friendship and the difficulties of growing up in Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood, in which the four friends have one last summer before they head to college. The girls are—once again—faced with romantic possibilities and family issues, as Carmen adjusts to her mother's pregnancy, Lena must discover a way to finance her college tuition, Bridget becomes a counsellor at a soccer camp where she reencounters her love interest from the first Sisterhood, and Tibby must reconcile her feelings when a longtime friend expresses interest in starting a romantic relationship. As the series progresses, the girls trade advice, letters, and "The Pants" to each other, providing emotional support and creating a support network of strong female contemporaries.

CRITICAL RECEPTION

The critical commentary surrounding Brashares's "Traveling Pants" series has been largely favorable. Reviewers have complimented Brashares's use of "The Pants" to tie together her four divergent plotlines, though some have noted that, thanks to the author's skill with character development, the use of "The Pants" as a literary device quickly became unnecessary. Marvin Hoffman has contended that, in The Second Summer of the Sisterhood, "[The Pants] seem much less central to the forward movement of the story and to the underscoring of the deep bonds among the friends. The lives of the girls and their mothers are so hugely absorbing in themselves that we hardly need to rely on this device to keep us engaged." Critics have also applauded the authenticity of Brashares's narrative voice, praising her ability to thoughtfully render her teenaged protagonists. In her review of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Linda Bindner has purported that, "All four girls are completely realistic, and even the secondary and adult characters are fully drawn. The result is a complex book about a solid group of friends, with each one a strong and courageous individual in her own right."

AWARDS

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants earned a Best Book for Young Adults citation from the American Library Association. It also received an American Booksellers Book Senses Book of the Year designation and the ABC Children's Booksellers Choices Award in 2002. The Second Summer of the Sisterhood was a Book Sense Book of the Year Award finalist in 2004. Brashares also won the first-ever Quills Award for a Young Adult/Teen Book in 2005 for Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood.

PRINCIPAL WORKS

Linus Torvalds: Software Rebel (juvenile biography) 2001
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (young adult novel) 2001
Steve Jobs: Think Different (juvenile biography) 2001
The Second Summer of the Sisterhood (young adult novel) 2003
Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood (young adult novel) 2005

Keep in Touch: Letters, Notes, and More from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (juvenile fiction) 2005

AUTHOR COMMENTARY

Ann Brashares and Dave Weich (interview date 7 September 2001)

SOURCE: Brashares, Ann, and Dave Weich. "Ann Brashares Embarks into Fiction." Powells.com (online magazine) http://www.powells.com/authors/brashares.html (7 September 2001).

[In the following interview, Brashares discusses the evolution of her first young adult novel, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, her personal reading preferences, and her experiences in the publishing industry.]

The day before splitting up for their first summer apart, four best friends discover a pair of pants that just might be magical—how else to explain a pair of jeans that fits each of them so perfectly? That night, they gather in the gym where their mothers first met (okay, technically, they break into the gym) to take the vow of the Traveling Pants.

In the morning, Carmen will reunite with her father in South Carolina. Bridget will set out for soccer camp in Mexico. Lena will board a plane to spend two months with her grandparents in Greece. Tibby, alone among the four, will stay home and work at Wallman's drugstore. The pants will circulate among them, making two rounds by summer's end if their calculations are correct.

The rules, however, took a while to sort out:

  1. You must never wash the pants.
  2. You must never double cuff the pants. It's tacky.
  3. You must never say the word "phat" while wearing the pants. You must also never think to yourself "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. You must follow the procedures for documenting your time in the pants.
  7. You must write your sisters throughout the summer, no matter how much fun you are having without them.
  8. You may only possess the pants for the specified length of time before passing them on to one of your sisters. 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.

"The pants are just pants, and life is just life, full of joys, sorrows, living, and dying," Frances Bradburn of Booklist raved. "This is the charm of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Carmen, Lena, Bridget, and Tibby are growing to adulthood, and Brashares accurately portrays one glorious, painful summer in their evolution."

The author, a seasoned editor of children's books, stole away from her own kids for a few minutes to talk about her first novel, one of the hottest young adult titles of the season.

[Weich]: After working in the publishing industry for a while, writing some nonfiction and organizing various projects, what made you try a novel now?

[Brashares]: I've done a lot of things, but not one totally full-on. For instance, the children's biography of Steve Jobs [Steve Jobs: Think Different ] came out of an editing project. I hadn't at any point considered myself an author of nonfiction. It was more a question of who was going to write those books, and I decided to try it. I was wearing a certain hat to do that project, and it was really fun, but I was functioning more as an editor, trying to come up with ideas for children's projects.

With The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, I've made a career shift. I really want to write fiction now. I love doing it. Fiction was my first love as a child and it's where my heart is. All along, I thought if I could do anything it would be to write fiction. Finally, I'm trying to get a toehold.

So how did you start withThe Sisterhood ?

It started with a conversation. A woman I used to work with, a dear friend, Jodi Anderson, talked about a summer where she and her friends had shared a pair of pants that wound up being lost. It was sad, but I loved the idea—a concrete thing in the middle of a great big, amorphous, rich world of fiction.

We talked about it a little more, and with some of her ideas and her blessing I went off and developed it into an outline, got characters, and got Random House on board. I just went from there.

The girls are spending their first summer apart, so each time the pants arrive with one of them in some distant part of the world they really do serve as a connection to home.

That's how I was hoping it would work, as a repository of friendship—love, hope, challenges, all of those things.

In the beginning of the story, there's a lot of talk about them being "magic" pants, but they certainly don't turn out to be lucky.

There's not so much luck along the way, no.

Why are the prologue and the epilogue from Carmen's point of view?

She has a bigger consciousness of their friendship, I think. She's less in the moment than the others.

Carmen, Bridget, and Lena are away from home for the first time. It's ironic that Tibby, who stays home, is the one who learns the most.

She's the one who's shaken up the most. The idea that that can happen at home was something I wanted to present.

That's something I found very true to life. There's so much going on in your hometown, but a child's life is circumscribed by his or her immediate contacts. Tibby, by staying home without her friends, is the first person in her group to see that. The others … Lena, for example, goes halfway across the globe and learns about herself, but not a whole lot about the world.

No, she doesn't. That's quite true.

When you think about this book's readership, who do you imagine it will be?

I'm assuming that it will find its way into the hands of girls. I'd love it if boys read it, too, but being realistic I think I was certainly imagining female readers.

I love the idea that it will appeal somewhat broadly. An eleven year old will enjoy it and it doesn't feel too sophisticated, but it's made me happy that people who are my age, in my thirties, and others in their twenties, are saying they like it. Of course most of them know me so maybe they're just being nice, but there's been a genuine response from people of different ages. I like to think it will have some broader appeal.

Something that jumps out, as far as appealing to adults, are the quotes that begin each chapter—everything from James Joyce to Henry Rollins to Seinfeld. They bring an older generation into the story.

I wanted the quotes to be completely random, a total mix. New stuff, old stuff, from here, from there. A lot of it is more about my age group than anybody else's. You can't try to pretend to be another age than the one you are. I wrote this book firmly as a person who's in her thirties, with powerful memories of being in my teens.

Is the quote from the Sears catalog actually true? "If you don't find it in the Index, look very carefully throughout the entire catalog." Did you really lift that directly?

I've seen it in a couple of places. I haven't verified it beyond a shadow of a doubt, but I think it's true.

How big is Carmen's butt?

I don't know! She thinks it's bigger than it is, but it's still a good-sized butt. Not quite Jennifer Lopez.

Speaking of children's books, and being a boy who really didn't read much when I was younger

That's such a boy thing. Girls, particularly as middle-graders, read a lot more than boys do at their age. That's a generalization, of course.

I'd like to think I'm not a complete anomaly, but I spend my days around bookstore employees who all seem to have been reading since they were prenatal so I'm never quite sure.

Were there books for you that served the role that this one might for a girl growing up now? Are there books you'd associate it with?

I don't know if it falls into a particular category. As far as books that I loved when I was this age, I loved Judy Blume. She felt like the first author who would tell it to me like it is, expose the sensitive, painful, awkward side of things. I remember really loving that, reading those books again and again. I hope this book will have the same feeling of honesty.

I haven't read as widely in current young adult fiction as I would like, but I feel as though there are a lot of books trying very hard to deal with social issues—illness or social ills, all kinds of shocking things—and in some part of my mind I knew that I didn't want to do that. I wanted to write a book that wasn't insubstantial but wasn't really issue-driven, either. I hope I did that.

It ended up being more serious than I'd imagined. Bridget's story was meant to be fun, and it turned quite dark, though I don't know how it happened. Carmen's story was sadder than I thought it would be. That may just be my way. But I wanted it to feel accessible.

Near the end, Carmen says, "What happened in front of my friends felt real. What happened to me by myself felt partly dreamed, partly imagined, definitely shifted and warped by my own fears and wants."

That's it for me. I remember feeling that so dramatically when I left for college. Out of context, I just didn't know who or what I was. It scared me. I could only see myself reflected in other people. It's a feeling that I related to then and I relate to now.

Do you see yourself writing more children's books?

I have a desire to do a lot of things. There's a part of me that likes writing fast paced, adventure stuff that I can imagine boys enjoying more, and younger kids. I think it's fun to plot and invent that kind of stuff. But I guess I'd like to do some more young adult fiction, and I'd like to try my hand at some adult fiction at some point. I'm hoping I'll grow into that.

Maybe by your fifties.

Right, when I'm truly an adult. I think if you have a not-totally satisfied childhood, as a writer, you go back over it again and again until you get it right. Then you can move on to other stuff.

What do you read?

Since I was twelve or so, I've loved nineteenth-century novels. I'm a complete sucker for those. I still read them. Every few years when I've forgotten enough Jane Austen I read them all again. I love Dickens, Thackeray. I love the Russian novelists; I went through a phase of devouring those books. I got into a Trollope phase.

I haven't read a lot of contemporary fiction, to tell you the truth. I'd like to read more. With young children, I've read so much less than I'd like to in the last few years. I have a young baby, too.

There are some children's and young adult writers that I admire particularly. I love Karen Cushman's Catherine, Called Birdy. It's so wonderful. I love Katherine Paterson. Rob Thomas, who's gone on to a lucrative career in television, has written some YA books that I admire enormously. And Katherine Applegate, whom I worked with a bit as an editor, has gone on to great success; having worked with her and seen her progress as a writer, I think she's immensely talented.

With kids' books, people seem to take for granted that they're targeted toward one gender or the other. So why aren't adult books taken seriously when they're aimed at a gender?

I don't have a good answer for that. It's taken for granted that you provide different reading material for those ages, you're right. But there's a lot of great crossover now. Harry Potter is an absolutely cross-gender phenomenon. There are certain categories, like Fantasy, generally. Even Scary Books—take the huge popularity of the Goosebumps series.

I think that's sort of the Holy Grail if you're in children's books, that you will be the person who'll come up with something both boys and girls will like. But for the most part, it's split; people assume that's how it is and there's not much comment.

As big as unbound by demographics as Harry Potter has become, I'm curious to see what happens when the movie comes out. It's hard to imagine it selling more books, but I know it will.

Who doesn't already have it, right?

Right. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone has been among our best-selling books every week for years.

Adults are the ones who've made that happen, don't you think?

They've certainly played a large role. The other day on the bus I saw two people, both adults, reading Potter books. Since Book 4 was published, the media attention has done a lot to bring non-parents to them. Also there's always a steady supply of kids entering that age group—I'm going to read Harry Potter as soon as I'm old enough, that kind of thing—whereas with adult fiction, there's inevitably some new release stealing the spotlight.

It's more stagnant. With kids' books, there's a sense of fluidity. You're always getting new potential readers.

Judy Blume is a good example. Generations of kids have read those books.

InThe Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, there are references to various contemporary items—stores like Express and Bed, Bath, and Beyond, for example—but not too many, nothing that would deter a child ten years from now from reading or enjoying it.

I hope not.

Whereas Harry Potter is completely made up. A total fantasy.

Although it does have the great attribute of being internally consistent. But no, this book is pretty grounded in reality. What magic there is isn't even very lucky, so what's with that? I don't know.

Considering J. K. Rowling's massive success, we haven't seen as many imitators as you'd expect.

Typically, when a children's book really succeeds you soon have a million imitators, to the point where it gets a bit shameful. But I think it's partly because Harry Potter is such an author-driven, unique project, so much about how she's done it and her character. Although I think it's brought a lot of energy to the Fantasy genre.

It's brought energy to the whole industry.

Do you think there's a backlash now?

Not when you consider how big it is and how long this has been going on, not since The New York Times removed children's books from its Best-seller list about a year ago so Harry Potter would stop dominating. Along with Oprah and Internet bookselling, Rowling has helped reestablish the place of books in popular culture.

There's been a lot of talk in the book industry lately about book reviews disappearing from mainstream news outlets; newspapers and magazines aren't reviewing as many books, and when they do it's a short, thumbnail sketch. Yet I can't help but feel like more people are reading and talking about reading now than in a long time.

Arguably, they're reading fewer things, but in greater numbers.

Books have become part of our national dialogue. It's fascinating to be standing behind the curtain, so to speak. For example, we don't take any money from publishers for placement on the web site….

That's an honorable thing. I remember I was so shocked, in a naïve way, to know that all that space is paid for, and all the placement in stores. I remember thinking, "Wait, they're not just picking the stuff they really like?"

Are you finding ways around that?

It's a challenge, particularly in the last year or so as more and more people new to Powell's visit our site. But it speaks to the idea that people are reading a fairly concentrated selection of titles: if we feature a book that a publishing house is promoting heavily elsewhere, it's going to sell well at Powells.com simply because people are familiar with it. They've seen it in other stores and they've seen ads for it in magazines. Whereas if we like a smaller-budget book and decide to stand behind it, we may sell some copies but people are less likely to buy it because they're hearing about it for the first time.

Once you get past the top five percent of books printed by the major publishing houses, very few people will ever hear of them. As promotional dollars sneak into more and more places, you have to find new and creative ways to generate interest in otherwise unsupported titles.

It does perpetuate, and it's a little bit sad. So many things don't get the attention they deserve.

When Ann Patchett was here over the summer, she said, "One of the most horrifying things about book tours is being in bookstores every day and just thinking, Oh, why bother? Look at all the fantastic, brilliant books."

Every time I go to a bookstore, it's a shattering experience. There are so many people trying so hard to do so many things. It can destroy your confidence. How can you have anything to say that would add to it? Yet we all persist.

And of course the flipside is that the centralization of that promotional power is largely responsible for the resurgence of books in mainstream culture. It's no different from millions of people watching Survivor every Thursday, then talking about it at work or school the next day. Well, now that everyone's reading the same books—Harry Potter, Bridget Jones, and the like—they can talk about books, too. And that momentum helps booksellers move inventory.

I see it in my own life. We're so brand-oriented. Life is big and complicated, and you want to simplify. You want to know what's good, what you can depend on. But a lot of books are lost. You see so much work and so much thought going into books that aren't being read.

I really should give you back to your kids. Is there anything else you want people to know about yourself or the book? I apologize for asking this question. Every time I do, I'm met with complete silence, but I can't help asking.

It's like the end of a job interview: "Do you have any questions?"

But you'd have one, right?

Well, I hope people find their way to this book and read it. Wouldn't that be great? Wouldn't it be fun? I wrote the book in an isolated way; I didn't know what people would think of it. The response so far has been such a happy surprise. I feel like it's being taken seriously, and that makes me so happy. I hope it finds its way to readers who'll like it and who'll take themselves seriously, too.

Note

Heartfelt thanks go out to Ann Brashares, who literally had to put her baby down to conduct this interview, by phone, from her home in Massachusetts on the afternoon of September 7, 2001.

Ann Brashares and Diane Roback (interview date 24 December 2001)

SOURCE: Brashares, Ann, and Diane Roback. "Flying Starts: Ann Brashares." Publishers Weekly 248, no. 52 (24 December 2001): 30.

[In the following interview, Brashares discusses her inspiration for The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, the book's publishing history, and her plans for future "Sisterhood" novels.]

For anyone who hasn't been perusing bestseller lists this fall, or hasn't visited a bookstore and seen an eye-catching pair of faded blue jeans on a book jacket, hearing someone mention "that pants book" might engender only confusion. But the many thousands of teenagers who have discovered the book and are passing it around to their friends would know instantly what you were referring to: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, written by Ann Brashares (Delacorte, Sept.)

The idea for the book, in which four teenage friends spend their first summer apart but share a pair of secondhand jeans, stemmed from when Brashares was a partner at 17th Street Productions, a book packager specializing in middle grade and young adult books. As Brashares recalls, "I was talking with Jodi Anderson, an editor at 17th Street, and she was telling me how she and a friend had shared a pair of pants over one summer. That immediately sparked a bunch of ideas. I said to her that it should be a novel, that it was such a fun idea."

She took the idea to Random House, where she worked on it with Beverly Horowitz and Wendy Loggia. "Jodi was very instrumental in helping me developing the premise," Brashares says. "I'm incredibly grateful to her for letting me use a small part of her life. From the first manuscript, Jodi, then Beverly and Wendy had a lot of good ideas for revisions—not structural stuff, but line-by-line stuff."

In writing for teenagers, Brashares says, "you feel such a sense of responsibility. You want to tackle certain issues. But I didn't feel like it was an 'issues' book—I wanted it to be fun, and a pleasure. And I want the stories I write to elicit an emotional response, to get readers thinking and feeling about my characters."

The book was completed, advance copies were handed out at BEA and a publication date was set: September 11. "All summer I had that date in mind," she recalls. "But then everyone's priorities shifted." The morning of the 11th she was on her way to her local Barnes & Noble in Park Slope, Brooklyn, when she heard about the attacks on the World Trade Center, just a few miles away. "I ran home, and it wasn't until much later that night that I realized, 'Oh God, this was supposed to be my publication day. I remember thinking, 'Well, that'll be important again one day, but not right now.'"

The unfortunately timed pub date, however, didn't seem to hurt the book: it now has 160,000 copies in print after eight trips to press, and Warner Bros. has purchased the film rights. Brashares says the book's success "is giving me the confidence that I can be a writer, that it can be my job and my life." She recalls her excitement when the buzz about the book began, thanks to those BEA readers' copies. "As a writer, you live in such isolation. It's hard to imagine your book has a life beyond you. Each piece of feedback was such fun! And there is the sheer joy of a first book, that somehow your thoughts translate into other people's worlds."

Brashares, who shares a brownstone with her husband and their three children (all under the age of six), says she writes at home, usually in the morning. "But I tend to try to run back downstairs to the computer at night, after the kids go to sleep." Currently she is at work on a sequel to Pants. "It will involve the same characters," she says, "but they're a little bit older." The book is due out in fall 2002 or spring 2003.

And she hopes to do other kinds of writing as well. "I'd love to try to write an adult novel, also a book for a younger age group. But for now, I'm very happy writing for young adults. Hopefully, life will be long, and I'll get to try other things."

Ann Brashares and Heidi Henneman (interview date May 2003)

SOURCE: Brashares, Ann, and Heidi Henneman. "Pass the Pants Please: Ann Brashares Returns with a Smart Sequel for Teens." Bookpage (online magazine) http:// www.bookpage.com/0305bp/ann_brashares.html (May 2003).

[In the following interview, Brashares discusses the progression of her young adult characters in the second "Sisterhood" novel, The Second Summer of the Sisterhood.]

Ann Brashares has taken the teen world by storm. A former editor, last fall she broke out from behind the scenes with her first novel, the surprise bestseller The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. This year, she returns with another book for savvy young readers, a smart sequel to her first book called The Second Summer of the Sisterhood.

With her newest title, Brashares again takes us into the hearts and minds of four teenage girlfriends, Tibby, Carmen, Lena and Bridget, whose mothers met at a prenatal aerobics class while they were still in the womb. "When I thought about when these girls become friends, it was never early enough," says the author. "I wanted a totally unquestioned relationship to one another, like siblings."

And Brashares has indeed created a sisterhood with these girls—a set of siblings like no other: one is Greek, one Latino, one blonde and one somewhat nondescript. While the author does hint a little at the ethnicity and background of each of her characters, she leaves much to the imagination. "I wanted to indicate that there is variety and a general openness among the girls," she explains. "It's a colorful picture, but not specifically drawn."

More important than their backgrounds, though, are their friendships. Realistically enough, each girl has her own quirks, and she is loved by the others in the group for them. Brashares expertly captures the essence of true girl power through these characters, but she is also able to express the emotions and difficulties that almost every teenager goes through.

Brashares' first book centered on a "magic" pair of jeans (any pair of pants that can fit perfectly on four unique teenage bodies has to have special powers). The girls pass these jeans along to each other throughout the summer and find romance, friendship and strength by wearing them. As each of the "sisters" takes her turn with the pants, she finds that the summer isn't filled with all the happiness she had hoped it would be: Tibby has to learn the hard way who her real friends and family are; Carmen jealously destroys her mother's new relationship; Bridget faces the truth about her mother's death; and Lena deals with an unexpected pregnancy. Indeed, the first passing of the pants proves to be bad magic rather than the good omen that the girls had envisioned.

But as the pants—and the summer—move on, the girls come to realize that it's not the pants that help them survive their traumas and see them through their joyous moments, but the closeness and comfort of their strong, lasting friendships.

"I think of the pants as pulling them into the plots of their lives," says Brashares, "and there needed to be a challenge, something difficult in their lives."

Compared to the first book, the second is a bit more daunting. The challenges the four mates face are somewhat more adult in nature: restoring faith in friends and family, dealing with a single parent's romantic life, coming face-to-face with death. "The girls are aging with each book and will continue to do so," says Brashares. "I felt that they were more mature and capable of dealing with some weightier issues."

Brashares' books aren't just how-to guides to surviving the curve balls of the teenage years. They are a peek into the lives of everyday people who have their own personalities, styles, histories and dreams. Love, friendship, commitment and honesty are important elements here, and Brashares combines them all flawlessly.

So what's next for the Sisterhood? "I'm not sure where it's all going," admits Brashares, "but it's going somewhere." At the very least, we'll see another summer of trials, tribulations and triumphs from the girls, and we may possibly see a glimpse of their colorful faces on the big screen. But time will tell with all of that. Until then, remember: Pants = love. Love your pals. Love yourself.

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TITLE COMMENTARY

THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS (2001)

Linda Bindner (review date August 2001)

SOURCE: Bindner, Linda. Review of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, by Ann Brashares. School Library Journal 47, no. 8 (August 2001): 175.

Gr. 9-Up—[In The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, b]est friends Lena, Tibby, Bridget, and Carmen are preparing to spend their first summer apart since they were born. Before leaving to visit her father, Carmen buys a pair of second-hand jeans on a whim, and when the others discover that the pants fit all of them, they create the sisterhood of the traveling pants. Each teen gets them for a few weeks before sending them on, and thus they travel from Washington, DC, to Greece to Baja California to South Carolina, linking the friends even as they are apart. The summer and the pants come to represent more than any of them can ever anticipate in this four-part coming-of-age story. Before the season ends, each teen must deal with some unpleasant problem, reach a real low, then confront her personal flaws and pull herself back up again. Brashares deftly moves from narrative to narrative, weaving together themes from the mundane to the profoundly important, from death to raging hormones, from stepfamilies to dead-end minimum-wage jobs. The endings aren't pat, yet each story line comes to a satisfying conclusion. All four girls are completely realistic, and even the secondary and adult characters are fully drawn. The result is a complex book about a solid group of friends, with each one a strong and courageous individual in her own right. They form a true sisterhood of acceptance and support, resulting in a believable and inviting world.

Kirkus Reviews (review date 1 August 2001)

SOURCE: Review of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, by Ann Brashares. Kirkus Reviews 69, no. 15 (1 August 2001): 1117.

In [The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, ] this feel-good novel with substance, four teenage girls, friends since they were all born just weeks apart, are about to embark on their first summer as separate young women. Carmen, half-Hispanic, has a knack for math; Lena, the beauty of the group and self-conscious about her appearance, demonstrates artistic talent; Bridget is the tall soccer star; and Tibby, the rebel, sports a nose ring. Visiting grandparents for the first time in Greece, attending soccer camp in Mexico, spending the summer with dad in South Carolina, or working at home, how will these girls survive their time alone? Leave it to a pair of secondhand jeans, which, despite their various body shapes, fits all four perfectly. These magical jeans, dubbed the Traveling Pants, span the world, one week at a time, lending their mystical powers wherever they go. The pants become a metaphor for the young women finding their own strength in the face of new love, unexpected friendships and death, a father's remarriage, and a reckless relationship—and without their best friends. Debut novelist Brashares renders each girl individual and lovable in her own right, emphasizing growing up without growing apart. Move over, Ya Ya Sisters. (Fiction. YA)

Deborah Stevenson (review date December 2001)

SOURCE: Stevenson, Deborah. Review of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, by Ann Brashares. Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 55, no. 4 (December 2001): 132-33.

[In The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, ] four inseparable friends—Carmen, Lena, Tibby, and Bridget—are facing separation, if only for a summer; they're reconciled somewhat to this fate by their plan to share the magic jeans that Carmen has discovered, jeans that look fabulous on each of the girls and seem to bring confidence and maturity to their wearer. All four turn out to need all the help the Pants can provide: Carmen discovers that her long-awaited summer alone with her father is really her first meeting with Dad's fiancée and her teenage kids; Lena's visit with her Greek grandparents goes awry when they misunderstand her disconcerting chance encounter with a neighbor boy as something more serious; Tibby finds herself oddly attached to a sharp-tongued younger girl who proves to have cancer; Bridget throws her considerable talents into securing the affections of an assistant coach at soccer camp and finds she may have gotten more than she bargained for. Brashares handles the disparate threads well, with a companionable, sisterly tone that carries the reader through the quick and constant changes from viewpoint to viewpoint (usually bridged by a letter from one of the girls to another) even before the girls' identities are clearly established. That establishment doesn't take long, however, and the personalities are strong and original and true to their fifteen-year-old selves, capable of maturity but also prone to lacking it when it's needed. It's no surprise that all four move farther along the road to adulthood by the end of the summer, but the book's loving depiction of enduring and solid friendship will ring true to readers, who will appreciate this recognition of one of life's most important relationships.

Marvin Hoffman (review date 19 December 2001)

SOURCE: Hoffman, Marvin. "Summer of Growth, a Growing Mystery." Houston Chronicle (19 December 2001): 19.

[In the following review, Hoffman characterizes The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants as a "very impressive first novel."]

I was in one of my favorite independent bookstores in Chicago recently when I saw a note peeking out from the pages of a book on the Recent Arrivals counter. The book was The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares, which the store owner, in her neat block print, had taken the time to personally recommend as one of the best books for teenage girls she had read in a long time. So when the book arrived on my reviewer's pile, it got a quick promotion to the top.

The owner's recommendation did not fail me. This very impressive first novel by a young New York author contains a rich mix of all the major elements in the lives of teenage girls in today's America. It is not a "problem" book, but its characters struggle with issues of friendship, sexual awakening, death, divorce, competition, jealousy and much more.

Carmen, Bridget, Tibby and Lena have been part of each other's lives in a Washington, D.C., suburb since their mothers met during pregnancy. They have spent every summer together swimming, playing, riding their bikes—until the summer of the story. At age 15 they are about to spend three months apart for the first time.

Carmen is headed to South Carolina to be with her divorced dad; Lena and her younger sister are off to Greece to visit her grandparents; Bridget will spend the summer at a sports camp in Mexico's Baja California to hone her considerable soccer talents; Tibby is sentenced to staying at home and clerking in the town's discount drugstore.

Before they head off to their various adventures, they discover a pair of jeans that Carmen bought on impulse in a thrift shop and left unworn on her shelf. During a pre-departure get-together they decide to try them on. Although the girls come in all different sizes and shapes, the jeans have the miraculous quality of looking good on all of them.

They decide the jeans will serve as their summer link and immediately draft a set of guidelines governing their movement from one summer locale to the next, where each girl will report on her experiences while wearing them. I need to be clear that this is not a fantasy novel; there is nothing magical about the jeans beyond the "real" magic of the deep love among the friends who will not allow life and geography to weaken the bonds that have kept them together since birth.

It is impossible to recap the complex plot lines of these four separate yet intertwined summers. The novel is structured like so many current TV shows—multiple intercut stories, with the traveling pants serving as the device that keeps the narrative from flying apart. Although the stories are told in the third person, the book is framed by a prologue and epilogue in the voice of Carmen, who is in many ways the most reflective and introspective of the group.

Let the following suffice. Carmen arrives in South Carolina expecting to have a summer alone with her father but discovers that he is about to remarry into a family that includes two other teenagers. Lena, the cold beauty of the group, spends her summer fighting off her grandmother's attempt to fix her up with a handsome young man on the island. Guess where this one is headed.

Bridget quickly emerges as the star athlete in her camp, but her attention is directed to breaking the camp's fraternization rules to be with a counselor to whom she is dangerously attracted. Stay-at-home Tibby decides to make a film about her dismal work life. She is assisted by Bailey, an obnoxious 11-year-old who invades Tibby's life and provides some of the most tragic and heartwrenching moments in the story.

All the girls grow and discover things about themselves that are moving and dramatically credible. Although the tone is basically serious, there is humor in the premise of the traveling pants as well as in the clever aphorisms that punctuate the story in the form of chapter headings: "Luck never gives; it only lends." "Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday."

Although Carmen is half Puerto Rican, this book is mainly about the experience of white, middle-class suburban girls, but its themes are universal and should appeal to a broad audience. I'm going to look for more notes protruding from volumes in that bookstore. This one worked out fine.

James Blasingame (review date September 2002)

SOURCE: Blasingame, James. Review of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, by Ann Brashares. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy 46, no. 1 (September 2002): 87-8.

[In The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, ] Carmen, Tibby, Lena, and Bridget have been best friends for as long as they can remember. Their mothers first met 16 years earlier in an aerobics class for pregnant women, and since that time the girls have never known a summer apart. This summer will be different, however, as three of the friends leave their homes in the Washington, D.C., area and head for different parts of the globe. Although they are separated, they will continue to share two important things, their lifelong friendship and a pair of pants.

The pants are only thrift-store blue jeans that Carmen picked up for US $3.49, and although they aren't truly magical, they do have some surprising properties. They fit each of the four girls perfectly despite their completely different body sizes and types, accentuating each girl's positive physical characteristics and minimizing negative ones. Whoever has the pants in her possession experiences powerful moments of romance, athletic triumph, or resolution of whatever issue is foremost in her life at the time. The girls call this the "power of the pants," and although they don't believe it to be magic, they do believe that the pants serve as a reminder of the strong friendship and advocacy they share. As the title suggests, the pants really do travel from girl to girl over the course of the summer, and while each girl has the pants she is reminded that her three best friends are with her in spirit if not in person.

The novel is really four different stories, each one told in several parts as the novel goes back and forth among the girls just like the pants. Carmen travels to South Carolina to spend the summer with her father, just the two of them, but discovers on her arrival that her father has a new family. Bridget travels to a big-time soccer camp in Mexico where the reckless abandon with which she plays soccer also shows up in her first exploration into romance. Lena spends her summer with her grandparents, lifelong residents of a beautiful village on the coast of Greece, where she thwarts her grandmother's plan to connect her with the village's most eligible bachelor. Tibby, the only member of the sisterhood to remain at home, starts a new job at Wallman's Drugstore and with a strange new friend attempts to make a documentary about quirky but interesting people. In the Epilogue all the girls meet for their annual birthday party at the site of the now long-disbanded aerobics class their mothers attended. Although each girl's story has its own ending, the author uses this final scene to add a note of resolution.

This novel addresses issues that young people quite often face, such as blended families, painful relationships, death and grieving, and dealing with adversity, but the approach is not heavy-handed, and the story is enjoyable. Ann Brashares's first fiction attempt is a successful one.

THE SECOND SUMMER OF THE SISTERHOOD (2003)

Claire Rosser (review date March 2003)

SOURCE: Rosser, Claire. Review of The Second Summer of the Sisterhood, by Ann Brashares. KLIATT 37, no. 2 (March 2003): 8.

Another summer and more adventures for the four friends—Bridget, Tibby, Carmen, and Lena—we met in the first book. Yes, the magical pants are still with them [in The Second Summer of the Sisterhood ] and are passed one to the other as the weeks pass by. The four are again separated and yet are constantly connected by e-mail, letters, and phone calls. Bridget is in the small Southern town where her mother grew up—she is hiding her identity and trying to get to know the woman who is her grandmother. Tibby is at a film camp at a local university, admiring a rather sophisticated fellow student and ashamed of her loyal friend Brian. Carmen is at home angry with her mother for falling in love and doing her best to sabotage that relationship. Lena has broken up with her boyfriend from last summer's trip to Greece, but Kostos appears unexpectedly on her doorstep and she is thrown back into the whirlpool of love.

Like the style of the first book, the four stories of the four girls proceed at a fast clip, with their care for each other and the pants themselves connecting the four narratives. The author cuts from one narrative to the next neatly and cleanly; and the reader has no trouble feeling part of these four lives. Brashares manages this juggling act well. She also has great love for many other characters; for instance, the adults of the story are developed as full characters, especially the mothers. The girls are smart, thoughtful, introspective, resourceful, creative, and flawed. They can also be self-destructive, angry, jealous and deceitful. This is longer than most YA novels, and filled with conversations, action, and life.

Elizabeth Bush (review date May 2003)

SOURCE: Bush, Elizabeth. Review of The Second Summer of the Sisterhood, by Ann Brashares. Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 56, no. 9 (May 2003): 351-52.

The Traveling Pants, those miraculous jeans that fit each wearer to a "T" and seem to conjure life-changing events (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, BCCB 12/01), are off to an unpromising start this summer [in The Second Summer of the Sisterhood ]. Lena's stuck clerking in a clothing store; Carmen's babysitting and seeing a guy she can't quite seem to focus on; Tibby's off at film school, courting the attention of a fellow student with considerable talent and an overload of attitude; and poor Bridget, who's put on so much depression-induced weight that she can't even zip The Pants up, is sweating in Alabama, getting to know the grandmother her father will have nothing to do with. So disappointing are The Pants, in fact, that the girls barely keep them for the week before shipping them off to the next destination. Ah, there's still some magic left, though, as Carmen's mother finds out when she borrows them for a date herself. It's the Motherhood of the Sisterhood, if you will, that becomes the unifying motif in this outing, as each girl learns that there's more to Mom than she thought. Tibby's mother really does care for her as much as she does for the younger siblings; Carmen's mother is still a vibrant babe with a shot at romance; Lena's mother had a past amour that threatened her marriage; Bridget's deceased mother was as deeply beloved as she was intensely troubled. This is no Ya Ya Redux, though; the girls still hold center stage, floundering in romances, wrestling with extra-Sisterly friendships, and relying on the unwavering love and support of the quartet. Last year's Sisterhood fans can start passing around this new installment, sharing like all good Sisters do.

Susan W. Hunter (review date May 2003)

SOURCE: Hunter, Susan W. Review of The Second Summer of the Sisterhood, by Ann Brashares. School Library Journal 49, no. 5 (May 2003): 144-45.

Gr. 8-Up—Carmen, Lena, Tibby, and Bee are back in this long, engaging sequel to The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Delacorte, 2001) [The Second Summer of the Sisterhood ]. The four best friends are beginning their 16th summer with new expectations for personal growth, romance, and deepening friendship, all enhanced by the magic of a shared pair of thrift-store jeans. Brashares has deftly interwoven the story's strands to convey the relaxed intimacy of the girls' friendships as well as the many parallels in their individual experiences. The dialogue is natural and helps build nuances of character; the use of metaphor and insightful language renders a narrative that is highly readable and marked by emotional truth. Bee, whose mother died when she was 11, heads to Alabama under an assumed name to visit her estranged maternal grandmother. Carmen and Lena both become entangled in emotional spats with their mothers, and Tibby makes an edgy documentary film about her mother for a screenwriting course. This is a summer for coming-of-age, and for people materializing out of the blue, but making an impact—Tibby's old friend Brian appears unbidden at her dorm; Lena's Greek boyfriend, Kostos, arrives suddenly; and Carmen's stepsister comes seeking sanctuary. Meanwhile, the traveling pants are circulated among the friends. It may just be the power of wonder, but the jeans undoubtedly play a role in the happy resolution of this big-hearted, complex tale of living, learning, and caring. Brashares's novel can be enjoyed by readers who have not yet discovered the previous book. It is certain to delight those readers who have.

Marvin Hoffman (review date 11 May 2003)

SOURCE: Hoffman, Marvin. "Sisterhood Sequel Works, but Hang up the Pants (Device)." Houston Chronicle (11 May 2003): 19.

[In the following review, Hoffman compliments Brashares' skill with characterization in The Second Summer of the Sisterhood, but argues that the "traveling pants" plot device is no longer an essential component of the "Sisterhood" storyline.]

According to Ann Brashares' publishers, her first novel, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, sold more than 350,000 copies in hardcover.

When I reviewed it in this column two years ago, I counted myself among its many enthusiasts, most of whom, I suspect, were female. In The Sisterhood, Brashares follows the adventures of four teenage friends—Lena, Tibby, Carmen and Bridget—as they spend their first summer apart from each other. The pants of the title are a pair of jeans that pass from torso to torso through the summer and on which the girls inscribe memories of a truly memorable season.

I had no idea that a sequel was in the works until The Second Summer of the Sisterhood arrived in the mail. I welcomed the opportunity to refresh my memories of the quartet's earlier adventures and to see what was in store for them in this following summer of their teenage lives. The author tells this story, like the first book, through a lens that pans continually across the friends in a skillfully interwoven narrative.

The Second Summer is a mother-daughter book. Each of the girls is engaged in a struggle to define herself in relation to her mother and to come to some understanding of her mother's own defining experiences.

Bridget, the only one of the four whose mother is no longer alive, has been forbidden contact with her maternal grandmother since she was 7. She is the athlete of the group, having spent the first summer at soccer camp where she had her first romance, with a staff member, which did not end well. She has given up athletics, put on weight and darkened her blond hair in an attempt to redefine herself.

She has also decided to spend the summer in the small Alabama town where her grandmother lives without revealing who she really is. She rents a room in a boarding house and is hired by her grandmother to clean out a memory-laden attic so it can become a guest room for a bed-and-breakfast.

As her relationship with her grandmother deepens, Bridget learns about her mother's own troubled past, and this enables her to understand the causes of her early death.

Lena spent the previous summer on the Greek island where her grandparents live. There, Kostos, an extraordinary young man, managed to break through her legendary emotional reserve to begin a torrid romance. But once back on her own turf, Lena's defenses reasserted themselves and she broke off the relationship. When Kostos appears in the States for a summer internship, the relationship is reignited.

Meanwhile, in what appears to be an unrelated subplot, Lena learns from her friends' mothers, all of whom have known each other since they were students together in a birthing class, that there was a mystery man in the life of Ariadne, Lena's mom, whom she refuses to acknowledge or discuss.

In the end, the two tracks merge as we see Lena's romance following the same tragic path as her mother's. Tibby spent the previous summer close to home dealing with the death of Bailey, an extraordinary 12-year-old whom she befriended. This summer she is off to a college campus where she is taking a film course and, more important, figuring out which relationships really matter.

She connects with a set of shallow friends who encourage her to produce a mocking portrait of her mother as her project for the film course. When her mother appears at the showing, she is crushed by her daughter's cruelty.

Tibby is shocked into reassessing the direction in which her life is going and reconnects with the lessons she learned from Bailey as she lived out her last days.

Finally, there is Carmen, who spent a turbulent summer with her father and his new family, struggling with her anger over the breakup of her parents' marriage and with her jealousy of the life her father has created apart from her.

This summer she is home with her mother, feeling doubly angry and abandoned as her mother embarks on a romance with a colleague at work. Carmen does her best to sabotage this relationship, but watching her mother crumble as the romance falters, she comes to see her as a woman with her own right to happiness, independent of Carmen's self-indulgent needs.

As in the first volume, the semi-magical pants, which manage to fit all four very differently configured bodies, circulate from one friend to another throughout the summer and even wind up being worn by one of the mothers.

However, they seem much less central to the forward movement of the story and to the underscoring of the deep bonds among the friends. The lives of the girls and their mothers are so hugely absorbing in themselves that we hardly need to rely on this device to keep us engaged.

These are great stories about complex, not always admirable, characters. The Second Summer may be intended as a chick book, exploring friendship among women and the tangled world of mother-daughter relationships, but this guy, for one, can't wait till next summer.

James Blasingame (review date December-January 2003–2004)

SOURCE: Blasingame, James. Review of The Second Summer of the Sisterhood, by Ann Brashares. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy 47, no. 4 (December-January 2003–2004): 348-49.

Let's quickly review background information from the predecessor to The Second Summer of the Sisterhood (Delacorte, 2001). Our four protagonists, Tibby, Carmen, Lena, and Bridget have some very special and unusual things in common. Their mothers all belonged to the same aerobics class for pregnant women, delivered their daughters close together in time, became good friends, and set the four girls up for a lifelong friendship. Although their mothers have now drifted apart and the girls live in different areas of the city, the four teenagers have remained close friends.

One unusual nuance of their friendship is the shared ownership of an almost-magical pair of jeans from a secondhand store. Although the girls have different physiques and sizes, the "traveling pants" fit each one perfectly. Not only are they a perfect fit, but also they have the uncanny quality of complementing each girl's figure. The girls share the pants—which they believe to be good luck, as well as good fashion—by mail so that each girl has a turn with them.

We now join the foursome one summer later. As in the first novel, each girl has her own conflict. Tibby and Bridget have totally different conflicts from those they experienced the previous year. After dealing with the death of a slightly eccentric and younger friend last summer, this year Tibby goes away to film school, where she encounters older (but still eccentric) teenage filmmaker-hopefuls and deals with the issue of genuine friendships. After spending last summer at soccer camp and experimenting with romance, Bridget attempts to covertly contact her estranged grandmother this year by traveling to the deep South and keeping her true identity a secret.

Carmen's and Lena's problems are not unlike those of the year before. Last summer Carmen had to deal with the fact that her father, who had moved away, now had a new and apparently happy family life of which she did not feel a part. Now Carmen feels a parent is being stolen from her life again, but this time it is her mother, who has just begun dating someone special. Lena's summer is very much a continuation of the previous one, when she traveled to her grandparents' home in Greece and fell in love with a handsome young man—who loved her in spite of her hard-to-get machinations. It's ironic that Lena is sentenced to spend this summer pining for Kostos, having told him they would be better off not contact-ing each other. Imagine her emotional roller coaster when Kostos shows up.

This book is at least as good as the previous one, and, as sequels go, it is no disappointment at all. The author has a talent for seamlessly moving from one girl's story to the next without disruption or the need for too much explanation. The girls are a year older and their problems are more complicated, as befits their age. Brashares is again thoughtful and insightful when handling the issues that confront young women as they move into adulthood, such as identity, nontraditional families, romantic relationships, finding real friends, and being true to one's conscience and values.

GIRLS IN PANTS: THE THIRD SUMMER OF THE SISTERHOOD (2005)

Kirkus Reviews (review date 15 December 2004)

SOURCE: Review of Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood, by Ann Brashares. Kirkus Reviews 72, no. 24 (15 December 2004): 1199.

[In Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood, ] Tilly, Carmen, Lena and Bee are graduating from high school and heading to college—Brown, RISD, NYU, and Williams. In the summer before college, before getting on with "their real lives," the girls have the Pants to keep them connected as they go their separate ways. Brashares provides a prologue for those new to the saga, explaining the sisterhood and the magical powers of the Pants they share—one at a time, of course—during the summer. The Pants offer a kind of spiritual link between the girls, providing love, security and connectedness as they face various dramas with boys, parents, new siblings and uncertain futures. The theme of this volume is change, as the girls understand they are leaving one life behind, but in one way or another, each realizes that leaving home doesn't mean giving up home or friends. Four intersecting story lines, snappy dialogue, empathy for characters and humor make this installment as enjoyable as the others. Legions of fans will enjoy spending another summer with the girls. (Fiction. 12+)

Publishers Weekly (review date 20 December 2004)

SOURCE: Review of Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood, by Ann Brashares. Publishers Weekly 251, no. 51 (20 December 2004): 61.

Fans of the Traveling Pants series will be delighted to welcome back the four life-long friends [in Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood, ] as they face their last summer together before separating for college. Though each girl has her own problems—and her own romance—to deal with, the quartet is there for each other, as are the magical pants that look good on them all (even if the pants themselves take a back seat in this installment). The author expertly splices together each friend's struggle with growing up: Bee's first love turns up as a fellow soccer coach at the summer camp where she is also coaching, Carmen's mother is expecting a new baby, Lena's father, as punishment for her sneaking off to an art class, will not pay for her education at Rhode Island art School of Design and Tibby is afraid when a long-time friendship turns into romance. Though readers new to the series may have trouble catching on to the back story, and a couple of plot points strain credibility (e.g., Tibby becomes Carmen's mother's last-minute labor coach), the girls are once again wonderfully drawn, with all their realistic faults. Readers will laugh as tough Carmen faces off with a police officer who stops her on her way to the hospital, and be touched when Lena draws a portrait of her recently widowed grandmother. Even in moments that edge toward melodrama (such as a parting shot of the four friends holding hands as they face the ocean surf), it's the girls' genuine love and tenderness that will win readers over and make them envious of the friends' strong bond. Ages 12-up.

Linda L. Plevak (review date January 2005)

SOURCE: Plevak, Linda L. Review of Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood, by Ann Brashares. School Library Journal 51, no. 1 (January 2005): 125-26.

Gr. 7-Up—Four friends embark on their third summer of adventures [in Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood ], beginning with their high school graduation. Tibby ponders the change in her relationship with a male friend who now wants to date her. She is devastated when her little sister is seriously injured after falling out a window that Tibby accidentally left open. Lena's plans to attend art school are disrupted when her conservative father discovers her sketching a nude male model during a summer class and refuses to pay the tuition. Carmen takes a job looking after Lena's cantankerous grandmother. She decides to attend college locally when she discovers that her mother and new stepfather are expecting a baby. Bridget goes to summer camp and is surprised to learn that her ex-fling is also a counselor. As in the previous books, the pants move from girl to girl weaving their special magic, but they are mentioned only briefly and it is easy to forget who has them when. The multiple story lines abruptly switch within chapters, building suspense. However, reluctant readers may miss having more solid transitions. The novel will appeal to those wanting light fare as the girls spend most of their time fretting about boys and all of their tribulations end happily. Fans will clamor for the latest in the series. The story stands alone, but references to the previous summers will attract readers to the other books.

Claire Rosser (review date January 2005)

SOURCE: Rosser, Claire. Review of Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood, by Ann Brashares. KLIATT 39, no. 1 (January 2005): 6.

Fans of this delightful series of books will eagerly grab this third part [Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood ]. (It has been announced that a movie will be made of this series and released in the summer of 2005, which will only encourage more readership.) To recap: it concerns four friends, four families, linked by a lifetime of memories and also by a magical pair of pants that brings out the best in the girl wearing them. This third summer of the sisterhood is the summer after graduation, before the friends—Tibby, Bee, Lena and Carmen—separate and go to college, so there is a bittersweet quality to the story. Each girl is a thoughtful, articulate, attractive person with her own set of talents and interests; connecting them all is the friendship they treasure. They may get their feelings hurt, they may stagger around in despair, they may be confused, they may be celebrating and happy—they are absolutely believable characters. As they pursue their activities this third summer, they frequently are in touch with one another, which is how the reader finds out what's going on in each life. It's best to start with the first book, but each book is equally enjoyable.

Elizabeth Bush (review date March 2005)

SOURCE: Bush, Elizabeth. Review of Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood, by Ann Brashares. Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 58, no. 7 (March 2005): 282-83.

Unwashed, uncuffed, and unbelted according to "the rules," the mystical jeans are back in summer circulation [in Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood ], ready to inspire and document milestones in the lives of their collective owners. Tibby, Carmen, Bridget (Bee), and Lena have blustered their way through high-school commencement and stand at the threshold of college with duffels full of second thoughts and mixed emotions. Lena's father is outraged at his little girl's figure drawing (nude figure drawing, that is) summer class and pulls the plug on her finances for Rhode Island School of Design, so now it's up to her to win scholarship money on her own. Carmen's mother and stepfather are expecting a baby, and Carmen is reluctant to leave home for school in Massachusetts, fearful of losing her place in her tenuous new family. Bee is off to soccer camp and an unsought reunion with the counselor she rashly seduced at sixteen (see The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, BCCB 12/01). Tibby, who trembles the most at impending change, learns some life lessons from her three-year-old sister and finds romance with an old-friend-turned-hunk. With the focus returned squarely to daughters rather than mothers, the signature cascade of story fragments flowing into a unified whole, and the heightened aura of raw emotion endemic to the "last summer" theme, the Pants set will bruise their fingertips on this page-turner. Whether the pants ritual has come to an end at the final sob-inducing scene at Rehoboth Beach is, of course, for the friends and their creator (and her publisher?) to decide, but fans who share the girls' separation anxiety had better keep a box of tissues close at hand.

Jennifer M. Brabander (review date March-April 2005)

SOURCE: Brabander, Jennifer M. Review of Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood, by Ann Brashares. Horn Book Magazine 81, no. 2 (March-April 2005): 198.

The Traveling Pants and the girls who wear them are back for a third summer [in Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood ]. Tibby, Carmen, Bee, and Lena are graduating from high school and at summer's end will head off to four different colleges. While the Pants only play a bit part this time around, the starring role still goes to those unbreakable bonds of Sisterhood that carry the girls through all kinds of family and boyfriend dramas. The girls nicely show how they've grown and matured over the last two years, and if Brashares too obviously spells out the lessons each learns, that overtness is one of the books' strongest appeals for fans, who can just sit back, relax, and be armchair travelers.

FURTHER READING

Criticism

Brashares, Ann. "How I Write." Writer 118, no. 7 (July 2005): 66.

Brashares discusses her inspirations, her method for writing fiction, and her advice for developing young adult writers.

Brashares, Ann, and James Blasingame. "Interview with Ann Brashares." Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy 47, no. 4 (December-January 2003–2004): 350.

Brashares discusses The Second Summer of the Sisterhood, her connection with her readership, and future writing projects.

Eagleman, Daphne, and Lisa Armitage. Review of Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood, by Ann Brashares. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy 49, no. 4 (December-January 2005–2006): 356.

Evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood.

Leahy, Christine. Review of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, by Ann Brashares. New York Times Book Review (10 March 2002): 21.

Provides a positive assessment of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Additional coverage of Brashares's life and career is contained in the following sources published by Thomson Gale: Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Vol. 52; Contemporary Authors, Vol. 218; Literature Resource Center; and Something about the Author, Vol. 145.

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