READING: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

18 Oct

Reading: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares.

Why you should read it: Emotion

(Photo Credit)

First published in 2001, you’ve probably heard of and maybe even read The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. If not, you may have seen or heard of the movie of the same name. Forget what you’ve heard, whether you’ve heard its “just chick lit” or just for young adults, or schmaltzy or whatever. You should read it regardless of what you’ve heard.

Just to get you excited about it, I’ll tantalize you with the plot of this first book in a four (five-ish, but more on that later) book series. The book follows four best friends—Carmen, Lena, Tibby and Bridget—who discover a magical pair of pants that fit all of the girls despite varying heights and weights and body types. Best friends and virtually inseparable, the circumstances of the summer split them up. In order to maintain their friendship they mail the pants to each other. The pants interweave their separate stories into one cohesive unit. By the time its over, the story is a complex and wonderful show of the trials of friendship and growing up.

However, besides being just plain satisfying, writers should read this book because Ann Brashares really knows something about explaining emotions. Sometimes her characters (being adolescent girls, with all of the ricocheting emotions and crazy impulses that go along with that) do irrational, even stupid things, but Brashares always makes the emotional journey clear: what happened that cause them to do that thing, and exactly how they feel about it. Check this tiny section:

“It was her last breakfast with Bapi, her last morning in Greece. In her frenetic bliss that kept her up till dawn, she’d scripted a whole conversation in Greek for her and Bapi to have as their grand finale of the summer. Now she looked at him contentedly munching on his Rice Krispies, waiting for the right juncture for launchtime.

He looked up at her briefly and smiled, and she realized something important. This was how they both liked it. Though most people felt bonded by conversation, Lena and Bapi were two of a kind who didn’t. They bonded by the routine of just eating cereal together.

She promptly forgot her script and went back to her cereal.

At one point, when she was down to just milk, Bapi reached over and put his hand on hers. ‘You’re my girl,’ he said.

And Lena knew she was.”

It’s not that there’s anything especially beautiful or amazing about this passage, but Brashares perfectly captures that moment, that feeling. Haven’t you ever had a moment, where you had something planned, but then realized there was something better out there?

I honestly feel that Brashares’ writing captures the unexplainable emotions. And you all know what they are. The feelings that you feel alone in your room with your favorite song on, or on the drive home from a party, or something. Brashares doesn’t attempt to explain these emotions or name them. But she can certainly make you feel them. And all writers could use a little of that.

READ IT. And honestly, you could stop there, because that one book alone is moving enough. BUT, you should read the other three too! Excitingly, this past summer, Brashares released Sisterhood Everlasting which takes place with the girls of the novels in full-on adulthood, and the challenges that brings. I’m ashamed to say, I haven’t read it—yet. I have read the excerpt online, and I’ve been checking out her other adult novels.

I might be biased because I’m a huge Brashares fan, but you should be too.

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