Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Brashares, Ann.  The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. New York: Random House, 2001. Print.
Annotation:  Best friends, Carmen, Lena, Tibby and Bridget, are spending their first summer away from each other before their junior year of high school.  Could it be that a pair of jeans found at a thrift store and fit all the girls perfectly, are magical?  They think so.  One pair of jeans + Four best girlfriends = A summer they won’t soon forget. 
Justification for Nomination:  The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, written by author Ann Brashares is a wonderful story about friendship and the heartache that often comes along with growing up.  Four best friends, who have known one another “forever” are spending their first summer away from each other before their junior year in high school.  Before leaving on their respective trips, Carmen, Tibby, Lena and Bridget spend some time together trying on a pair of jeans that Carmen found at a thrift store for $3.49.  All of the girls have very different shapes, but for some reason, this pair of jeans fits them all perfectly!  They decide this has to be magical, and in order to stay connected with one another, they agree to share the jeans over the summer.  So, the story begins of four girls and one pair of jeans. 
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is a friendship story, a real coming of age story that will resonate with teens.  As the jeans are shared between the girls, we learn about their individual and unique stories and experience the range of emotions they do; from love to loss, from life to death.  Tibby loses a new friend to leukemia, Lena finds love but must learn to be truthful, Carmen must face relationship issues with her father and his new family, and Bridget loses her virginity and cannot handle what she has done.  Ann Brashares writes with an easy youthful style, but with it shares deeply personal and complex situations that are relatable and interesting to teens. 
There are many reasons this book would be considered a quality piece of young adult literature.  Importantly, it addresses the “who am I?” quest that all young adult literature must seek to define.  It is emotionally engaging, believable and real life, with topics appealing to teens.  The protagonists experience some painful lessons and challenges, thrusting them into unknown territory, testing their abilities to deal with grown up realities.  It is a heart-tugging story about friendship and life, and how each friend moves on, learning and growing from what they have experienced.    
Ann Brashares is a fluid writer.  Each character voice is well-defined.  Her writing is simple to understand, emotional and age appropriate.  The structure and style of the story is interesting, breaking into multiple points of view, which is very effective, and not distracting from the overall story; a different approach from how most books are written.  The narration does not come off as preachy or working too hard in creating a lesson; it comes across as natural and believable.  There are no easy fixes in the friends’ situations, but wisdom is gained.
Personally, I loved this story and it’s no wonder so many teens do, too.  It speaks to so many of the issues teens face as they move into adulthood.  Importantly, the quest for finding themselves without each other, the ‘who am I?’ factor is the foundation.  Another plus is that the book is a series; a real plus for young adult literature.  This is a fantastic read for anyone who is looking for an appropriate coming of age and friendship story.
Genre Category:  Fiction/Friendship/Coming of Age

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