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Book Review: Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

I am not sure what I think of Sisterhood Everlasting, the fifth book in Ann Brashares‘ Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. I spent the first half of it remembering why I usually stick to genre fiction, the next half remembering why I sometimes still do wander into the “regular fiction” section, and the aftermath puzzling over whether or not I actually liked the book. I will try to keep the following review spoiler-light, but it cannot be spoiler-free, not if I’m going to talk about the elements that troubled me.

As the book begins, the “sisters” have been apart for a while, not really getting together since Tibby left with Brian for Australia two years ago and dropped out of contact. Lena is an artist, not so much struggling as drifting; the shows she has had have done well, but she does not want any more. She still pines for Kostos. Bee is still with Eric but refuses to live in one place for long. Carmen is a moderately successful actress and engaged to a man everyone (including her, when she thinks about it) knows to be shallow(1). Things seem to look up for all of them when Tibby invites them to meet in Greece, but there are further troubles—mostly the same troubles—in store for them.

And there is my problem. Although the “girls” are now nearing their thirties, they do not seem to have matured much past the Sisterhood Everalsting. Indeed, in some ways, they have regressed. While the previous books all feature a widening social circle with the sisters supporting one another as they look outward, Sisterhood Everlasting is claustrophobic. They seem to have put their emotional lives on hold at the end of Forever in Blue, drifting in a holding pattern for the last ten years, even during the time they were together. Only Lena seems to have made any new friends, and her new friend is an older lady she met while studying Greek so that she could speak to Kostos should he, by some remarkable turn of events, contact her, break through her reticence, and actually start (restart) a relationship(2). I wanted to shake the lot of them.

On the plus side, Ann Brashares is skilled in pacing, and her characters, however exasperating, are real enough to care about, so I kept reading. I wanted to know what happened to Tibby, why she lost contact, why she tried to contact them again after two years, what led to the catastrophe, and how they were going to handle it. Somewhere in there a couple of unexpected twists occurred, and I kept reading, rooting for the sisters and hoping for a happy ending.

And there is a happy ending, sort of, and it is earned, more or less, but the whole retains that claustrophobic, turned-in feel which leaves me wondering whether the moral of the story is “Stick close to your friends” or “Don’t form really tight, lifelong friendships because if you do, you’ll never manage to move on.” In this regard, the novel’s end is a little happy and a little scary both.

Brashares mentions the possibility of a sequel. I’m not sure whether or not I’ll read it. On the one hand, I mostly, kind of, enjoyed the book. I certainly didn’t put it down in favor of the other books in the library bag, which I have done to books before. On the other, I absolutely hate the sequel hook she suggests in the end-of-the-book interview, and on the third, I spent the entire novel debating whether or not I was enjoying myself(3).

(1) Carmen is an actress discovering Hollywood life is terribly shallow. Who’d’ve thunk? I mean, I’ve never encountered that in a book before. Though in Brashares’ defense, she does not make Carmen give up acting for “real life” at the end, which is refreshing.
(2) As I recall, the Kostos situation was already driving me slightly crazy by the time Forever in Blue rolled around.
(3) Ok, so it’s not exactly like it’s a long “entire novel,” or that I spent all that long reading it, but it’s the principle of the thing, you know?

Read the book? Let me know what you think, either here in the comments section or on The Geek Girl Project’s Facebook page.



One Comment

  1. Honestly, I feel a bit of the same way about the book.
    I just finished reading and while I’m (for the most part) satisfied for the characters, I’m still not over how difficult it was read during most of it.
    I wish Brashares had published a book about their time living together in that tiny apartment. I wish we could have gotten some voice of Tibby’s in this one (not just letters). I wish the girls had some interaction with each other like in the old books.
    This book feels so different from the others it’s like it’s not part of the series, and I wish it was.

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