Author's Website: annbrashares.com
Publisher: Random House
Released: June 14, 2011
Genre: Contemporary/Women's Fiction
Series: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Ten years after they've lost the pants that kept them together when they spent summers apart in high school, the girls of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants have traveled far and wide across America, and Tibby's even gone to Australia! But this time, being apart has put a strain on their relationship and they're hardly in contact with each other at all. The girls all feel something missing in their lives, and they are certain that if only the Sisterhood were whole again, everything would be perfect again. So when Tibby unexpectedly sends Bridget, Carmen, and Lena tickets to Greece, all three are delighted and highly anticipating reuniting the sisters. Nothing could have prepared them for what actually happens in Greece, but as each girl struggles with it, they confront their demons and learn what it means to love the way they used to.First of all, though this is a continuation of the YA series The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, this book is decidedly not YA. It's dark and twisty and deals with concepts that place it firmly in the adult sphere.
That said. This book pulled me in, sucked me under like a whirlpool. The sadness of each girl is so palpable, the enormity of what they have to deal with so real. For most of the book, not much is happening, but the alternating streams of consciousness as each girl tries to go on after the devastating events are somehow so powerful, so raw and emotional. It's a mark of pure genius when a book manages to get the reader involved so quickly, even when the characters are not especially likable. Of course, that's balanced by the fact that we've been caring about these characters for four books now, so when they show their not-too-appealing sides, we care enough to stick around and hope that they'll figure it all out.
Still, I think this book works really well as a stand-alone if someone hasn't read all four books before. References to previous events are minimal, and the characters are so changed by this point - ten years will do that! - so even we old, broken-in readers have to adjust how we approach each girl.
The plot revolves around the emotions of each girl, and that works really well. Really, every part of this book works amazingly well. Each event is wrapped up in how each girl responds to it, and since the emotion is what this book is all about, that makes a lot of sense. Though the plot begins to develop more once the story gets going, and big events do happen, the point all along is internal conflict and resolution. Yes, Lena deals with Kostos again, but really what she's dealing with is her own fears and misgivings, her own inability to trust herself. And that's how it is for all the girls. Whatever they do is important only because it affects their own inner journey.
And I love books that manage to capture that inner journey so well - especially from multiple viewpoints. This is not a feel-good novel, but it gives hope for a beautiful, cohesive world.