Have you read or seen “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”? Somehow, I missed this young adult classic as a teen. However, I do remember being in high school and seeing girls carrying around these colorful books with the iconic pair of jeans printed squarely on the cover. Now, you may be asking yourself as I did when I was a kid — why would I want to read a book about pants? Spoiler alert (but not really) — the story is about more than just pants (shocker).
There are five books in this series — The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2001), The Second Summer of the Sisterhood (2003), Girls in Pants (2005), Forever in Blue (2007), and Sisterhood Everlasting (2011) (set years in the future) — and, yes, I did read all five books in like three weeks’ time (#bingereading #noshame). There’s also a spin-off book, but I did not read this one.
The first book starts off by introducing the four high school girls at the center of the action — Lena Kaligaris (the Greek one with a younger sister), Tibby Rollins (the working girl with a pair of very young siblings), Bridget Vreeland (the soccer star/ blonde beauty), and Carmen Lowell (the half Puerto Rican one who lives with her mother after the divorce). These best friends claim to have been friends since before they were born, which sounds silly until you learn that their mothers met in a pre-natal aerobics class for women with September due dates, became friends, had the girls one after the other, and then kept up a close friendship between the girls and the moms for a few years.
Flashforward to the present day, the girls are inseparable and feel stressed about the thought of spending a whole summer apart (remember that this was the days of dial-up internet, i.e. pre-Facebook/ Instagram etc.). They decide to keep in touch via email over the summer, but also, almost as a joke, they decide to pass along a pair of $3.40 (tax included) thrift store jeans between the girls as a token of their friendship and love for one another. The jeans, which flatter all the girls despite their different statures and figures, will make their way from Lena in Greece (who will be visiting relatives), Tibby in Bethesda, MD (the girls’ hometown where the Tibby is stuck working at a grocery store), Bridget in Baja California, Mexico (where she is at soccer camp), and Carmen in South Carolina (where she will be visiting her father for the summer).
Drama unfolds over the summer and the girls experience beautiful highs and the lowest of lows (even with the “magic” pants on). Overall, this series documents the friendship of the girls through all their struggles over the summer. Each subsequent book in the series covers the girls’ lives with new characters weaving in and out of the tale. As the girls grow older their lives, which featured so many shared moments, sprawl out in different directions and this close-knit foursome must go their separate ways after high school graduation. Regardless, their bond persists. Finally, the series concludes with “Sisterhood Everlasting,” which catches up with the girls in their 30th year of life. So much has changed for each of them since the fateful thrift-shop find all those years ago….
It really was a pleasure to read these books — better late than never, right?! I’m not one to be nostalgic for “simpler times,” however, it made my heart warm to hear about how the girls kept in touch through snail mail, email, and, of course, the pants. I hope the kids of today and the future will read this book and puzzle over the fact that the kids can’t use the landline phone and the computer at the same time. Or the fact that one character needs to call an operator to place an international call. Finally, it would be remiss not to mention that college dorm rooms had landlines, video cassettes were a thing, and phone cards made great gifts 🙂 .
Anyway, if you are longing for a light story of friendship, love, adventure, and pants, then, there is really no better series for you out there. Whether you are 14 or, well, much older than that, readers may very easily take joy from these heartwarming tales.