Saturday, June 25, 2011

Book Review: Sisterhood Everlasting

I wrote a whole post introducing it. Now, as promised, I have the review, of the next, but maybe not last, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants novel, Sisterhood Everlasting.

This is the first review where I'm going to institute a new format. It has always bothered me that reviews are so limited. You can talk about the book, but only in general terms. Well, what fun is that? I want to talk about the whole book! I want to analyze it all! I want to discuss how the couple got together, and how the story ended! But I still want to be able to write normal reviews, where people can read about the book and then go buy it themselves.

I don't know how this is going to work, but I'm going to try it. A compromise of sorts. I'm going to insert a line break. Before the break there will be a normal review: summary, my general thoughts on the book. Then, if you choose to click on it, you'll find the full review after the break, where I discuss everything, spoilers be damned. Sound good to you? We'll see how it goes!

Summary: A surprise sequel to the popular Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Series by Ann Brashares, this book picks up ten years after the last one ended. Bridget is still with Eric, but is as flighty as ever, eager to keep moving, never settling. Lena is living a quiet life, teaching at RISD, still continents away from her true love Kostos. Carmen is now a popular actress living in New York City, engaged to the insufferable Jones. Tibby moved to Australia with Brian two years ago, and her whereabouts have since been unknown to the rest of the Sisterhood. The story begins as the four girls are set to meet up in Greece, when tragedy strikes.


I thought I was going to hate it. I didn't. I thought it was going to be so bad that it would make me hate the entire series. It didn't. But it wasn't great.

I loved the original series. Correction: I loved the first three books, especially the third one, Girls in Pants. I didn't really like the last book, Forever in Blue. I thought Carmen's acting thing was stupid. I didn't care about Leo. I found Tibby quite annoying with the whole Brian/pregnancy thing. But on the whole, I loved the series. I loved these girls.

I love them so much that I know what kind of potential they have. I knew that this new book could be great. I think that may be my biggest problem with the novel--the wasted potential. Ann Brashares could have gone anywhere with this. It's ten years in the future--anything could have happened. The direction that she chose was so predictable. Frustrating. All the characters had gotten ten years older, but they hadn't gotten years wiser. They were all stuck in place--Bridget was still running from life, Lena was still running from Kostos, and Carmen was still trying to find a good storyline. That's not even dealing with the whole Tibby disaster.

By now everyone knows, but I should warn this is a spoiler. Stop now if you're the type of person who likes to be 100% spoiler free. If you're still with me, you probably already know that Tibby dies. She drowns in Greece. They don't know if it's a suicide or not. They don't know anything. All they know is that they've lost Tibby. It is their grief over this event that drives the rest of the story.

The death was terrible. It was just so lazy. A flimsy plot device, a cliched move to create drama. It expected us to be sad, but it didn't earn that sadness. I wasn't sad because of 30 year old Tibby died, and I didn't feel bad for her 30 year old friends. Instead, I mourned the old Tibby, and had sympathy for her 20 year old friends, the ones I had loved so much in the original books. The original series had made me invest in these characters. This book didn't. The plot assumed that you would feel sad, but it didn't work for that emotion. It was lazy, and unoriginal, and I really, really wish it hadn't happened.

I hate reading about grief. I find it so boring. I was so freaking bored in this book that I actually skipped thirty pages. Yep, that's right. And I'm not a skipper. Ever. But I just couldn't do it. I was bored to tears! And it was so easy to just flip forward. I didn't miss anything. I wasn't confused at all. That's really a weakness of the book is not one plot point moves forward in thirty freaking pages!

For a book I didn't hate, I've really been hating on it. What was good about it? It's hard to remember. I liked the writing. It was the familiar, sentimental Brashares style that I've always liked. And I'll always love the characters, of course. That's a given. And I liked the ending.

Overall, I don't think this was a very good book. As a standalone, I don't think I would have been able to finish it. The plot was lazy and unimaginative. The characters were stuck. But, as a longtime fan, I enjoyed it enough. I hated Carmen's storyline, and I was annoyed by Bridget's, but I liked Lena's. I thought the resolution to Tibby's death was pretty good. But again, none of that was earned or particularly well developed in this novel. I only enjoyed it because I would enjoy any scene between these girls.

This is a book for longterm fans. Anyone else, please, please, waste your time on something else.

And that's what I have to say to anyone who hasn't read it. If you've already finished it, please join me after the break.

What is wrong with these girls? Okay, so Tibby dies, and they don't know why, but they're all so stupid that it takes them months to contact Brian? What? Their reluctance to find Brian really frustrated me. It was obviously Brashares stalling. If they found Brian too soon, the story would be over. Instead, she dragged it out, sacrificing her characters intelligence for page count.

Beyond that plot hole, I liked how Tibby's death unfolded. I don't think she should have died in the first place, but if she had to, I think it was okay. I kind of liked how it unfolded backwards. First they thought it was an accident, then a suicide, then a disease. I liked that element of mystery. And I'm so glad she didn't kill herself. I wouldn't want that ending for my Tibby.

I hated how Tibby's death was used to propel the rest of the stories forward. Lena should have been able to find Kostos herself. Carmen shouldn't have been so stupid as to think she would marry someone as good awful as Jones. And Bridget shouldn't have been so senseless as to leave Eric, who loved her so much and was so understanding of all her problems.

In the end, though, I was happy. I loved the final scenes between Lena and Kostos. I thought their whole courtship was way too drawn out--kind of like Anna and Etienne's in Anna and the French Kiss--but I'm just so glad they're together. I had assumed they had gotten together at the end of Forever in Blue. I was fairly satisfied with that ending. But, fine, this was a nice bonus. I loved the line about how "this is someday." Awww.

And I'm happy for Bridget and Eric. Bee's transformation--from considering abortion to bonding with Bailey to becoming a mother--was surprisingly authentic. And I loved Eric's reaction. I'm excited for them.

In the end, Carmen was the one who got shafted, as always. She spends half the freaking novel on the train, for heaven's sakes! And still, no romance! I love Carmen and it's about damn time that she got a really storyline! AHHHHH!

So, I'm happy with 3/4 stories. Pretty good. Still, gosh darn awful book. But enjoyable enough to read. I wouldn't mind another one.


  1. haha i stopped reading at the spoiler part. and i'll admit, I'm totally with you with the 'original 3 books' sisterhood thing (my group of friends were so convinced we WERE the sisterhood.. oh wow) and 4th book was a bit... much. And I fully expect I'll hate this one but I guess after your intro I'm prepared to be surprised :P

    PS~ borrowed Crow Lake from the library! i hope it's as good as you say it is :)

  2. I read the whole thing and, on the whole, I didn't dislike it as much as you do. I liked it, in fact. But there were a number of things that didn't make sense. The kind of things Roger Ebert used to call "idiot plots": those situations that could be easily solved if the characters would only talk to each other. One you mention that particularly bugged was no one trying to find Brian. Forget the girls for a moment. Wouldn't Tibby's parents, who flew across the world to collect Tibby's remains and her weekend duffle bag, go find what their daughter had been up to for over two years? If they'll go to Greece to examine a suitcase full of Cheetos and Pop Tarts, wouldn't they go to Tibby's home? Wouldn't her family, particularly her younger sibs need to know that she had an hereditary neuromuscular disease? If defies logic and it was done, as you say, for one reason only: page count. Idiot plot, indeed!

  3. Audrey--Tell me what you think of Sisterhood and Crow Lake when you're done. I'm interested to hear another opinion.


    Yes, thank you! I was so frustrated with that! The characters were all so dumb.

    You say you liked it. Which parts did you like? Lena and Kostos? Eric/Bridget/Bailey/Brian? Carmen? And how did you feel about (SPOILER) Tibby's death, on the whole?

    I've heard rumours she might write another one. What do you think? Would you read it?

  4. I think that (the rest of this post is riddled with SPOILERS) Tibby's death was a plot device, pure and simple. It was handled a bit ham-handedly, sure, but I guess I can forgive that in a Young Adult novel. I imagine that Brashares thought that, as the girls were approaching 30 it was time that that they were confronted with death and that, as Tibby had had to deal with Bailey's death in the first novel, then she was the one who had to go. This is somewhat manipulative since the girls had all had to face death as young children when Bridget's mother died.

    I guess I liked it because I'm a long-time fan of this series and love these characters, warts and all. I liked seeing Bridget and Eric and Lena/Kostas come together at last, and I liked the Brian/Bailey stuff a lot. (Truthfully, much as I've always loved the character in the past, it was hard to like Carmen much here.) And I'd read another sequel for the same reason--because of my long-time affection for these characters--not because this latest effort was the best ever or anything close to it.

    The Huntington's could've been anything, obviously, it was a plot contrivance and nothing more. I think here Brashares reveals herself to be a "House" fan. Maybe she's taken a proprietary interest in the careers of her girls since the Sisterhood movies came out.

    Speaking of which: I'd LOVE to see a movie made out of this one. I think Amber Tamblyn could eat that $#it up!

  5. Anonymous, I completely agree with pretty much everything you said.

    I would read another one, but only because I love these girls. (SPOILERS LIE AHEAD FOR ANYONE RANDOMLY READING THIS DEEP INTO THE COMMENTS EVEN IF YOU HAVEN"T READ THE BOOK). And yes, the death was a stupid plot device. And Lena/Kostos!!!!! And a Bridget/Eric baby!!! And yes, I did appreciate some of the Brian/Bailey stuff. And, of course, Carmen sucked.

    So glad to find someone who agrees!

  6. I almost stopped reading it after tibby's death. I was angry and upset and was like seriously this is where you are going with the 10 year reunion. It made me mad that they girls weren't together again. I found the book very predictable. I had a feeling she didn't kill herself and that she had a kid with brian.
    I loved Bee's story line the most. It was the one that was truest to her character.
    Lena's plot line was predictable. Typical. Nothing new. I was happy she FINALLY got with Kotos, but her character annoyed me, and she was one of my favourites before.
    I HATED carmen's story line. Although I have pretty much always hated Carmen's story lines. She was annoying and honestly acted more like a teenager then the rest of them. It bothered me how the story on the train just kind of ended. oh I met this stranger, poured my heart out to him and now ill never see him again but i felt something for him.

    overall i liked the ending and i am glad that I finished reading it but it was slow at points and extremely predictable

  7. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. As I began, I was eager to return to the familiar warmth that the original series enveloped me in. I fell in love with these characters while I was a teen, and as a young adult I was excited to "see" what had become of my old friends.

    As I said, I enjoyed the book for the most part. I completed it in two evenings, intending to read briefly before bed each night but instead staying up too late for my own good. I found myself crying over the loss of Tibby; fuming over the mistakes of Bee, Carmen, and Lena; lusting for the "happy ending" of Lena and Kostos; and for the most part picking up where I had left when I last rode the emotional rollercoaster known as the Sisterhood.

    However, my biggest plight was how Tibby died. First off, I left the book still unsure of whether Tibby chose to end her life that day, or if it was in fact an accident. As for the author's disease of choice, Huntington's, I felt that the author didn't do enough research. Having a close connection with the degenerative disease; I've lost a grandmother, five great aunts, and a great uncle to the disease, and both my father and a friend of the family are currently existing with the illness; I feel as though I know a fair amount about the disease. Though it's possible, most people- women especially- do not pass away from Huntington's so soon after a diagnosis. Even following suit with Brashares' hinting toward it being the weakness of the Huntington's that caused her to drown in the sea's strong currents, it's still uncommon for a person to progress that quickly with the disease.

    Additionally, some of the first signs of Huntington's include slurring of speech, loss of memory, shakiness, and a loss of balance. Typically, I would think, it would be difficult for a person who's Huntington's is progressing as quickly as Brashare is implying to piece together a scheme of messages like Tibby did.

    Overall, I found this novel to be a fun and quick read. I enjoyed getting a more concrete means of closure in regard to the lives of Bee, Carmen, Tibby, and Lena.

  8. It was so sad when Tibby died! I loved the book though, Lena and Kostos together was so sweet.

    Check out my review of Sisterhood Everlasting here:

  9. I hated that Tibby died, and I'm so happy that you guys feel the same way. The second I realized what was happening I skipped through pages and pages looking for an explanation, and after reading the whole book I still feel I don't I have one. I was happy with how the original series ended, and i think having another sequel just for something so awful to happen was unnecessary. Reading it I felt that the girls were still teenagers and I found it sad that they grew apart again after they faced that challenge in forever in blue already and I felt it was resolved by the loss of the pants. Apparently Ann felt they needed to lose Tibby (my favorite character) too. I found it very disappointing and it felt more like reading a fan fiction than one of the actual books in the series.

  10. I'm reading this book for school and I just bought it cuz I love the first books.....but now I'm unsure if I should finish it and do a report on it....I just hope I like it!!!

  11. Personally I think Tibby having Huntingtons was just weird. Firstly, it doesn't progress that fast. Secondly, Huntingtons is autosomal dominant - meaning at least one of her parents would have to have the disease for Tibby to have it. In which case, it would have been an issue from the beginning, wondering whether Tibby had inherited it or not, unless she had an incredibly rare mutation. Seriously the author could've done more research, and actually picked a disease that would make sense.

  12. Why do people skip pages then say nothing happens, maybe you missed something. Grrr.
    And I also found it very weird that they didn't email Brian. Or that he didn't contact them. They thought that maybe he had broken up with Tibby but they could have tried...

  13. Hey
    I thought that I would read up to the spoilers than check out if other people liked it however some rude people didn't write SPOILER!!!!!

  14. Wow. I haven't read this. In fact, I just found out that it existed today. However, am I the only one who thought that picking off Tibby was a terrible plot? I mean, really. The direction she should have gone with this? Bridget. And I know for a fact that A. Brashires can do death. The Last Summer (of me and you) was so excellent. It made me so paranoid about not finishing antibiotics, too.

  15. I also have found this book pretty boring. I even have given up reading it and have found a summary in the Internet.
    In spite of your point of view, I liked a possibility of Tibbi's suicide, it could be pretty strong point in this sweet story. But I didn't like all the rest, and especially I hated Lena and Costos' line. To tell the truth, I don't remember much about Carmen or Bridget, but Lena... She has been waiting for him for ten years, oh, really? I don't believe she was so stupid. I don't believe Tibbi went to swim before meeting her friends. I don't believe it was not possible to find Brian before (folk, we have at least Google, if not Facebook and HH sites!).
    I agree with you it was just waste of time.


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