Young Adult Fiction
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Written by: Ann Brashares
Published By: Delacorte Press
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
When The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants hit the theaters, I had every intention of going to see the movie, especially when it started getting rave reviews from everyone I talked to. But time constraints worked against me and I had to wait until the movie was released on DVD. On the surface, the premise seems silly. Four incredibly close friends – Carmen, Tibby, Lena, and Bridget - about to be embarking on very different vacations realize that this is the first summer they will be spending apart. In a last minute shopping trip, the four end up in a thrift shop where they find a pair of pants that amazingly fits them all, irregardless of height, weight, or body type. They resolve that the pants must be magical and they form a pact – they will share the pants over the summer, each girl keeping the pants for a set amount of time. In that way, it will feel as though the girls are never really far apart.
In the end, the premise really isn’t all that silly. Armed with the “power” of the pants, each girl finds something new in herself – the power to be something they ordinarily wouldn’t. The pants give each girl a certain amount of strength to move into the unknown. At the same time, the pants DO act as a bond between the girls, keeping them together even though they are miles apart. The movie was incredible. There were some incredibly funny parts and others that made your eyes well up with tears. In the end, even the audience will believe in the “magic” of the pants.
I was so taken with this movie, I talked about it with everyone I knew, recommending that they rent it as soon as possible. When my sister and I wandered into Blockbuster Video, I immediately pointed out The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. After watching it with me, she was so impressed with the film that she wrote a review directly after seeing it. Having learned that the movie was based on a growing series of books, I headed to my local book store to check them out.
The movie itself is based rather loosely on the book. There are quite a few differences. In the book, Carmen buys the pants in a thrift shop without even trying them on, making the pants seem that much more magical when they amazingly fit each girl. Lena meets a boy named Kostos in Greece. In the movie, his family has fallen out of favor with his family and her relationship with him is forbidden. In the book, Kostos is actually pushed on Lena by her doting grandmother and only falls out of favor later after a misunderstanding. In the book, Lena goes to Greece with her sister, Effie, while in the movie, Lena travels there alone. Tibby suffers a loss in the book that greatly affects how she acts toward the end of the novel with her new found friend, Bailey. This scene is not included in the movie. Also, there are chronological differences between the book and the movie.
In my opinion, both the book and the movie are incredible works of art in their own right. It is hard to believe that The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is Ann Brashares' first novel. The story flows so well and the characters are so easy to connect with that one would think Brashares had been writing for eons. In fact, according to her answers in the Q&A section included in the back of the book, Brashares often feels self-conscious when calling herself a writer. She feels she hasn’t been writing long enough to have earned that title. In my book, she is way off base. Any writer of a book that captures my attention so deeply that I hate to put it down is accomplished in my book. I finished reading this book in three days. The only reason it took me that long is that I had to interrupt my reading in order to work, eat and sleep. The characters and their circumstances are wholly believable. This is not just some “teeny-bopper” book. Brashares deals with some very serious issues in this novel, such as death, divorce, and sex. Yet, the novel also has its humorous side – a happy mix. I love the way each chapter is separated by a quote, either from a famous person, such as a philosopher, writer, singer, or from one of the characters themselves.
All in all, my entire experience with The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants has been wonderful and I would enthusiastically recommend both to everyone. Having read an excerpt of the second book in the series, The Second Summer of the Sisterhood, I can honestly say that I can’t wait to get my hands on that novel as well!