Monday, August 15, 2011

Vacation Dispatches

Some people would tell you that it was impossible to write about Sisterhood Everlasting, Anne Brashares' follow-up to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, without giving away major plot points.  Those people are faint of heart, and I am not one of them.

Sisterhood Everlasting: A Novel (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants)At the end of the book, I was satisfied in the way that a warm plate of cookies makes you satisfied.  At various points along the way, though, I was plagued with doubt and fear.  And when my doubts were cleared up, it was in a kind of happily-ever-after, magical okayness that felt kind of unreal after the raw emotional stuff that had come before.

But let's step aside from that.  I won't give away the somewhat shocking thing that happens at the beginning of the book, or the kind of downbeat feel of the first half or so.  What I'll say is that this story begins ten years after the end of the Sisterhood's adolescent adventures in book four.  They are now 29 instead of 19 and in the thick of living their lives. 

Except they're not.  Each one is still tangled up with the same adolescent problems they had in the other books.  Bridget skims along on the surface of life, moving fast and feeling nothing.  Lena is so afraid of feeling anything that she's practically a recluse.  Carmen's insecurities have her living the high life and feeling crappy about herself.  Tibby has her own problems, and has pulled away from the Sisterhood. 

All of these were poignant emotional situations when they were 19.  At 29, though, they are all looking really neurotic.  And it's all based around their different ways of avoiding feeling things, because they feel them so deeply.  Carmen sticks with appearances; Lena tries to keep the world from spinning, Bridget is always moving, Tibby is on the other side of the world.

I can't go much further into what actually happens in the story, but this alone--the fact that their problems at 29 are the same as their problems at 19, only more intense, more life-limiting, more indelible, all seems really depressing to me.  And there's a level on which any warm-fuzzy happiness at the ending can't feel long-lasting, if it never was before.  There's an implication that they all had a well-adjusted period in their early 20s, but it's all rather sketchy.

If you've read the book, I'd love to know what you think.  I really enjoyed the last half, as everyone started working through their issues, but the first half, where everyone was just a falling-apart mess, had me so sad and afraid for the Sisterhood that I was all gloomy.

Hopefully my vacation will have a little more reading time and I'll be back on the bloggy wagon!

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