(Image from the movie, but they were so perfectly cast!)
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Series
by Ann Brashares
" Try, reach, want, and you may fall. But even if you do, you might be okay anyway.
If you don't try, you save nothing, because you might as well be dead."
— Ann Brashares (Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood)
This is a bit unfair, but it is a review of the entire series. Yes I am lazy.
Basically, I love these books. They let you into the mind of the teenage girl. You read them and completely understand the mess they are, and you can step outside them and see how their actions compliment their feelings, but are incredibly inexplicable for those who don't know what they are thinking. For boys, these are good "Girls are Insane. Here is Why" books.
The four girls are vibrant, full of growing, and messed up, like all teenagers. I found myself getting really bored with all the story lines about boys, and really engaged in the stories about their careers and their family. Lena: fighting for her art class and her relationship with her dad. Bee: her archeology and her healing cocoon of a summer in Alabama after a traumatic experience. Carmen: her acting, and her new baby brother (and Win... yes he is the one boy who did not seem to come with any baggage, or sleep with/ emotionally shred a girl). And Tibby: Bailey, of course, and the rediscovery of herself through her film class.
A side note about the boys: Sex=bad in these books. Its often good in the moment, but then as soon as the afterglow has worn off, life goes to shit. In two cases, the girls ended up in an emotional maelstrom, and the last one is meh, alas I did not have sex for love and it was casual and ok but nothing big. I understand that the author does not want the message of her books to be sex alla time= amazingness to teenage girls, but I think it would have been healthy to have one sexual encounter that was not total shit. And its sad that the one boy character who doesn't mess anyone up just fades away between books.
Regardless, the stories are structured really well! Each small section builds to a climax moment, and then she switches characters. It keeps you going, especially for those of us who find it hard to read for hours and hours.
These may even be better for those of us who have grown up and are looking back on high school. At 14-19, even 14-21, you were in the midst of this and so it was hard to see the bigger picture. The girls were just a bit bigger and more alive than you. Their experiences and adventures were just beyond your reach. Now, as an adult, watching these young girls grow and change and realize things about themselves, you are able to step outside the drama and learn from their experience.