Mandy’s Miscellaneous Flavours: Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

PhotobucketSisterhood Everlasting
Ann Brashares
Random House- June 2011
Hardcover
Young Adult, Adult
349 pages

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.

***

I’ve got to say this is a record. As I stated in my first, and seemingly last entry, in true Mandy-style it was two days late. Well previous me, THIS ONE IS WEEKS LATE! BEAT THAT!

Reminder to self: no, don’t beat that.

Anyways, I’m back and this time with a review! As you might have guessed the book I’m tackling today is one I wrote about in my previous anticipated reads section: Ann Brashares’ Sisterhood Everlasting.

And boy was this book a rollercoaster for me.

As with all final instalments in a beloved series, Brashares’ Sisterhood Everlasting has left me with mixed emotions. As the summary above explains, the events transpiring in this book happen ten years after the events of Forever in Blue. Because of this, I was prepared to dive into the lives of four women that were familiar and yet somewhat strangers at the same time. Ten years is a long time and along with the years comes change, something I knew would be inevitable. I was prepared not to read, more or less, about Bridget and thoughtless antics, Lena and her struggle to come out of her shell, Tibby and her “screw the world” attitude, as well as Carmen and her search for herself.

However, at times I felt like I was reading about a group of teenagers despite the reality of the characters being 29 years old (Bridget I’m looking at you). I realize that some people don’t get their shit together by the time they’re 30, but I was thinking that maybe they’d learn something from their past mistakes and not simply repeat them once again. Although I know that some of the characteristic traits you possess don’t necessarily disappear into thin air once you breach the barrier of “adulthood” and whatever that means. Heck some of them even develop as you grow older, as is the case with me procrastination. Sometimes, old habits really do die hard.

The book started off with a nice throwback to the first instalment with Carmen narrating the beginning. Just with that first chapter the nostalgia began to set in and made me giddy with excitement with what was to come. However, the nostalgia and giddiness would end there as we are thrust into the lives of these four, now very different, women.

The most troubling is Tibby. After moving with Brian to Australia the three others know nothing of what has happened to her, and consequently, the reader is not left with much information either. As a big fan of Tibby, I was worried that something has happened to her and as you read the book you discover tidbits of how her life has been throughout the last 10 years until the present. Tibby is the reason of their week-long reunion at Santorini after she arranged the whole thing herself. Yes! My Tibby getting shit done! As always! :D However, something unthinkable happens once they all reach their destination, which ultimately triggers the rest of the events in the book as well as the tears and anger (on my part).

Carmen is now a TV actress as Special Investigator Lara Brennan on Criminal Court, and engaged to Jones who is, according to Bridget and etc, an asshole. We notice the changes within her character right away as we are given a description of her new appearance as she studied herself in the mirror: “she squinted down at her highlights. They were a little brassy, a little bright this time. She would have liked to go darker but the director wanted her light. Probably because her character’s surname was Brennan and not Garcia.” As I continued reading I got a sudden pang as I realized that she is tired and sick with everything, and not quite happy with how her life turned out. Instead of acting simply being her job, it becomes a way for her to cope and get through the day. It’s a different Carmen from the usual food-loving firecracker and headstrong person the readers are used to, but as the book progresses we witness her self-discovery once again.

And then there’s Lena. Oh Lena. Lena, Lena, Lena. Why do you love being miserable? When we are reintroduced to Lena, we discover that she has become an art teacher for Rhode Island School of Design. The only phone calls she receives are from Carmen, her mom, and Effie. Where’s Kostos you may ask? Kostos is now living in England as a successful businessman. No really, The Wall Street Journal declared him to be the youngest managing partner in the history of his bank and a couple of years later he was in Times and in subsequent business journals after that. It seemed that Kostos would forever loom over Lena, whether he knew it or not. We then discover, sadly, that Kostos and Lena were supposed to meet six years earlier in Santorini and spend the summer together, but Lena freaked out and cancelled the trip. By email. “Now isn’t the right time” she said, and made some excuses that felt cowardly to her even as she typed them.” The only reason I didn’t want to reach into the pages and slap her senselessly was her awareness of her own cowardice. It was painful reading about her stunted life knowing that it could have been so much more. However, that is something that changes with the events that happen in the book, and Lena goes from being isolated and afraid of life, to the brave person she is.

And finally there’s Bridget. (I wanted to slap you sometimes. Just a bit.) Bridget now lives in San Francisco with her boyfriend Brian, whom is a godsend. I don’t know how he can be so patient with her and can put up with her. Out of all of the characters I think she changed the least, and given some of the circumstances I thought she might have matured a bit more. However, she was just as reckless and impulsive as she was in the three previous books. Of course, this changes throughout the book, and like everyone else she changes for the better.

All in all I very much enjoyed Sisterhood Everlasting despite how heartbreaking it was at points. However isn’t that how life is like? Isn’t it the moments of pain and struggle that make us appreciate those filled with love and joy even more?

Anyways, this review is going much on longer than I thought it would! So how do I rate this? I see cupcakes and stars have been taken. Hmm… let’s see. I’m eating cream at the moment. Ice cream scoops. Yeah…Why the hell not!?

I give this book three ice cream scoops plus one for nostalgic factor out of five!

Lena and Kostos 4EVER!!!

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Mandy’s Musings: Of balloons, summer and The Pants

In true Mandy style this entry is two days late, but as the saying goes: better late than never, right?

With my semester coming to a close, my brain has been battered, pummelled, and mercilessly stuffed with information from assigned scholarly articles and textbooks. All of which will ultimately be forgotten by the final period in my endless essay, or answer in my final exam.

In other words, my brain is worn out. Exhausted. It feels like a balloon that has been emptied of its air and fallen onto the hard, cold floor after flying all over the place in a frenzy because its purpose in life is to be an air-filled balloon but some idiot decided to release its air and reduce it to its original state as a distant cousin of a condom.

There’s something deep and metaphorical in there, but I can’t make the connection.

Anyways, anyone who ends the semester saying otherwise is full of shiitakes.

With that said, even though I’m mentally exhausted I’d still appreciate a good read, albeit something lighter than Roland Barthes’ theories on intertextuality and postmodernity.

Fortunately, I’ve found the perfect book to begin my vacation.

Ann Brashare’s newest installment in The Sisterhood series is entitled Sisterhood Everlasting. As a teenager I devoured these books and could not wait to read about the summer adventures of Carmen, Bee, Tibby and Lena and wish I could have a magical pair of jeans that fit perfectly while making wonderful things happen. It goes without saying that although I was completely taken by surprise at the ending of what I thought was the final installment of The Sisterhood; I also felt that it was a fitting end to a wonderful series. Things change, and people grow up. Like me, these four girls grew up and were now starting a new phase in their life. It was a bittersweet end, but I knew I could revisit these characters by picking up one of the books, dusting it off and sitting comfortably on my couch and relive their adventures and the memories that they bring back of my own teenaged summers spent under the sun.

So imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon Sisterhood Everlasting the newest addition to the Sisterhood series! I’m not sure what to expect from this newest installment, but with ten years separating the events of the last book from this one there are bound to be major changes with the four girls, or should I say women, that I grew to know. However, I can’t wait to start reading this book and hopefully enjoy it as much as I enjoyed the others. Here’s to the Pants!

Remember: Pants=Love. Love your pals. Love yourself.

Mandy