October 23, 2012 by Vicki
I sat down and read Ann Brashares The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants in one evening. I simply could not put this book down. I, immediately, became enraptured in the adventures of these four friends during their summer apart. I don’t often review Young Adult novels on this blog, but I believe that The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants deserves the attention and care of our Book Club Discussion.
Friendship, obviously, plays a huge role in this novel. It is, after all, the story of four girls who have been friends since they were babies. Their mothers had all been in the same prenatal class and had been a support for each other as they went through pregnancy. Their mother’s friendship dissolved under the pressure of the death of Bridget’s mom. However, the girls had remained tight friends, and the novel describes their first summer separated from each other.
I love the way the idea of friendship is examined in this novel. The pants become a representation of the girl’s friendship. Each girl takes strength and courage from the pants as they know what the pants represent. Carmen uses the Pants to remind herself of her individuality so that she can confront her father. On the other hand, Bridget uses them to seduce the cute sports camp coach who is much too old for her. The Pants gave her the courage but didn’t relay the concern of her friends. Her message sent along with the Pants, however, alerted the friends that she was in trouble. No matter the use made of the Pants, the Pants still represented friendship, love and sisterhood.
Reading The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, I had to wonder about the dissolving of the friendship between the mothers. Is friendship, as described in this novel, only available to the young? Can we only give unconditional love and kindness to those we have known since childhood? In the beginning of the story, Carmen associates the success of their friendship to their love and being truly nice to each other. She asks if the reader is aware how rare that truly is. Love and Kindness are rarities in our lives? Their mothers tell them that once they start competing over boys then their friendship will fall apart. Yet, these friends know that is not true because they love each other and thus will always be kind to each other.
I frequently hear about the “Cattiness” of women and how women can’t maintain friendships with each other. I cannot agree. I do admit that the focus on having a significant other gives the impression that all women compete for a limited resource; namely a decent man. However, I have never believed that a man completes a woman or that he is even necessary. I can’t remember who said it, but someone said “Men are just desert.” I do believe, however, that women require the friendship and love that exists between true female friends.
True female friendship is a very hard thing to find and, sometimes, even harder to maintain. It is worth every second that you dedicate to it. I think The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants demonstrates just how deep and profound these friendships can be. It also demonstrates how important these friendships are to women. How would Bridget have survived without the immediate support and understanding of her friends? What would Tibby have done with the death of Bailey if she hadn’t had her friends standing behind her? I know my friends have supported me through the hardest times in my life. I do not know what I would have done if I did not have them. I also know that my fiancé calls them first, whenever I hit rock bottom. He calls and says “I don’t know what to do, please help,” and they do. So, thank you to all the female friends out there who stand by us through thick and thin. Who always have us on speed dial, and know when they need to call. Each one is a hero in the eyes of their friends.
Questions for Readers: How important are your female friendships to you? Who do you call when you hit rock bottom?