Thursday, March 22, 2012

Group Review: Sisterhood Everlasting

Summary: Return to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants . . . ten years later.
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Ann Brashares comes the welcome return of the characters whose friendship became a touchstone for a generation. Now Tibby, Lena, Carmen, and Bridget have grown up, starting their lives on their own. And though the jeans they shared are long gone, the sisterhood is everlasting.

Despite having jobs and men that they love, each knows that something is missing: the closeness that once sustained them. Carmen is a successful actress in New York, engaged to be married, but misses her friends. Lena finds solace in her art, teaching in Rhode Island, but still thinks of Kostos and the road she didn’t take. Bridget lives with her longtime boyfriend, Eric, in San Francisco, and though a part of her wants to settle down, a bigger part can’t seem to shed her old restlessness.

Then Tibby reaches out to bridge the distance, sending the others plane tickets for a reunion that they all breathlessly await. And indeed, it will change their lives forever—but in ways that none of them could ever have expected.

As moving and life-changing as an encounter with long-lost best friends, Sisterhood Everlasting is a powerful story about growing up, losing your way, and finding the courage to create a new one.

Alice's Review: I purchased the hard cover of Sisterhood Everlasting almost immediately after it was released. I put off reading it because I couldn’t find a place for it on my reading list. Now I wish I had postponed it even longer. Not because it was terrible, but because I loved it. I, hand to heaven, loved it so much and am so sad to see the series end. Ann Brashares definitely ends this one with a bang and it’s the best one in the series.

There is so much I want to write, tell you about this novel but I fear anything I say will succeed only in spoiling it for you. There is a twist in the beginning of the novel that I didn’t see coming. I couldn’t imagine it ever happening. It was a huge risk that took a lot of courage to write. I read a few reviews before I penned my own and other readers either loved it or hated it. Personally, I think it needed to be done. It was a realistic way to achieve drama. It was heartbreaking, confusing and left me as stunned as the Septembers. I believe that each one of them handled this situation in a true and honest manner. Ms. Brashares did an excellent job of making sure the characters stayed true to themselves.

There are many driving forces in this novel. The plot is major but it’s the character’s that move it along. To steal from Julie, I believe this novel is more character driven than plot driven. Since Tibby sets the story in motion, I will start with her.

Tibby: Since the beginning, I loved Tibby’s quirkiness. I like how she walks to her own beat, and doesn’t follow what should be done. In this novel, Tibby in many ways is still the ringleader, the one who holds the girls together.

Carmen: I always had a special place in my heart for Carmen. Probably because of all the Septembers, hers is the personality I relate to the most. We’re both hot headed. We react first, ask questions later people. We’re emotional, hate change and are fiercely loyal to those we love. I was glad that Carmen was finally a success, living the life and dream she always imagined.

Bridget: Of all the Septembers, I feel Bridget is the one who grew up the most. When the novel begins, she’s her usually vivacious wild child self. The one who began the novel and the one who ended it are two different women. I really enjoyed her journey and can only imagine the great things that are still in store for her.

Lena: Ahh Lena. The shy hopeless romantic, oh how I love you. I’m glad she hadn’t given up on Kostos. I’m glad he didn’t give up on her. She was the one that made me cry the most, the one I wanted to hug and comfort even though I know she would refuse it.

My favorite Lena part was this: Lena wished that love were something you could flip on and off. You could turn it on when you felt good about yourself and worthy of it and generous enough to return it. You could flip it off when you needed to hide or self-destruct and had nothing at all to give. 

This novel isn’t perfect by any means. There are times when the reader has to suspend logic and let the novel carry us forward. The great triumph is that never did I feel Ms. Brashares dropped the ball on this. She didn’t phone this one in. It was well thought, well written, and absolutely true. This novel is a reminder of what Ann Brashares does best. This novel is the reason why I will keep reading her work.

Overall, this novel was everything I hoped it would be and more. My throat hurt from holding back the tears, and man they came at unexpected times. This is my favorite kind of novel, the kind that makes me want to read it again as soon as I turn over the last page.

Final Take: 5/5

Jenn's Review:  Had I known what this book was going to be about at the outset, I wouldn't have read it. That's not to say it wasn't a wonderful, well written book, just that there is a reason I don't read books like this.  I read to recharge my emotional battery not drain it.  I'm not sure if it's a testament to how fabulous Ann Brashares is as a writer, or whether I just have an excess of empathy, but I was up half the night sobbing and occasionally raging; it's probably a little of both.

After getting over the shock of the initial plot twist, I saw the next few twists coming.  And I think that made me angrier with the characters, if possible. I was frustrated with the lack of progress Lena and Bee had made with their lives.  All this time, and Bee is still running around without roots.  Lena is shut away in her studio.  They never grew up, they just stood still, while this changes over the course of the book I truly wanted to shake them for wasting so much time.  Carmen and Tibby at least moved on.  Carmen's path needs readjustment, but at least she chose one.  Tibby moves to Australia to start life anew and honestly, I was angry with her too for the way she shut her 'sisters' out.  But as Alice says, they are all 'true to character'.  There were a couple of plot points that tugged at my realism meter, but they are hardly worth mentioning.

I will not spoil this book for anyone who has yet to read it, but you're going to need several boxes of tissues.  I wasn't weeping.  I was bawling at least 60 percent of the time.  I was inconsolable.  I was furious. I was relieved.  I was hopeful.  Did I love the novel?  Yes, it was beautiful.  It has forever changed the way I see The Sisterhood.  Ann Brashares is brilliant.  It will stay with me always.  However, while I will re-read the first four, I'm pretty sure I'll never open the cover of this one again.

Final Take: 4.75/5



Stephanie March 24, 2012 at 8:04 PM  

I really need to pick up this book to read. I read the first three books in the series, but just forgot to read book 4! Now that this is out I'll have to go back and catch up!

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