Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

Monday, August 22, 2011

Title: Sisterhood Everlasting
Author: Ann Brashares
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publisher: Random House, 2011
Source: Library

Although Carmen, Bee, Lena, and Tibby grew up wrapped up in each others' stories, now that they are nearing their thirtieth birthdays, they seem to have lost touch. Carmen is a successful TV actress with a fiance in the business, Bee is with Eric, leading a nomadic life, Lena is still drawing but seems to be growing more and more isolated, and Tibby is in Australia and seems to be unreachable. However, when Tibby sends the girls tickets to Greece, they all feel a sense of hope that they can patch up the distance. Events take a surprising and tragic turn, and it is left to the sisterhood to determine if they can still be whole even when they can't all be together.

I grew up with the Sisterhood. I read the first book my freshman year of high school (with the Moulin Rouge soundtrack blaring in the background, naturally), eagerly awaited the publication of each new book, and saw the movie on opening day, the first day of my senior summer. I copied down the quotes at the beginnings of the chapter copiously in my journal. I cried in the books and the movies. I am invested in this series.

Many fans were disappointed in this final and unexpected installment. I will admit that at first I didn't know what to think. Was I saddened by the turn of events? Yes, of course. However, a story's sadness does not diminish its value or meaningfulness. Most of the Sisterhood books had some element of aching sadness - the point of the books is the way the girls use their friendship to buoy themselves up and overcome difficulties. In this final book, this is achieved. Friendship is still the defining factor in the characters' ability to overcome a crushing tragedy, and they are able to overcome. However, this tragedy is more of a focus in the book than the previous installments - while earlier books had many subplots and foci, this one plunged downward for hundreds of pages before any sort of redemption is achieved. This made the book more depressing and at times, more dragging than previous books.

I was still impressed with Brashares' distinctive prose and the way it captures emotions that I don't know I have until she drives them into my heart with her mightier-than-the-sword pen. "Whether or not he had ever wanted to marry her, he seemed to know the right way to care for her at a deeply fragile time, and that in itself was something like love." While the writing was still just as beautiful and powerful as the books I grew up loving, the story did lack some of the magic. I think this is partly because of the reasons I listed previously - the more narrow focus of the story and the increased tragedy. I also think that part of the allure of YA literature in general is that it captures a time where everything seems new and fast. As we grow older, we settle into routines. Life still possesses beauty, but I think it is steadier and quieter. It was this way with Sisterhood Everlasting - beauty and discovery were still present, but they blossomed slowly and were more bittersweet.

Don't let my criticisms keep you from reading the book. It was beautifully written and I loved entering the Sisterhood's world again. However, it isn't my favorite book of the series by any means, and the way the girls' lives play out is at times frustrating.

3.75 stars

Warnings: A few f-bombs, a few non-graphic "scenes"


  1. I had been debating whether or not I wanted to read this one, because I also read and really enjoyed the Sisterhood books. (And that's a story in itself...)

    So, when this one was announced, I was really nervous, because I didn't want it to change or ruin the originals for me.

    And THEN- Someone accidentally spoiled something for me, so I intentionally looked up a bigger spoiler- 'the tragedy' and now I just plan pretend like the book doesn't exist ;P

    Glad you still liked it though!

  2. Haha, yeah in some ways I wish I could. It is sad the way the girls' lives kind of fall apart in places. In some ways I like it, because it says to me that life happens and that you still have to find the beauty in it despite tragedy. But, I kind of wonder why Ann Brashares decided to do what she did.


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