Forever in Blue: The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood

Forever in Blue: The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood

4.3 383
by Ann Brashares, Angela Goethals
     
 

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With unraveled embroidery and fraying hems, the Traveling Pants are back for one last, glorious summer.

Lena: Immerses herself in her painting and an intoxicating summer fling, fearing that the moment she forgets about Kostos will be the moment she sees him again.

Carmen: Falls under the spell of a sophisticated college friend for whom a theatrical role

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Overview

With unraveled embroidery and fraying hems, the Traveling Pants are back for one last, glorious summer.

Lena: Immerses herself in her painting and an intoxicating summer fling, fearing that the moment she forgets about Kostos will be the moment she sees him again.

Carmen: Falls under the spell of a sophisticated college friend for whom a theatrical role means everything and the heritage of the Pants means nothing.

Bridget: Joins a dig for an ancient city on the coast of Turkey and discovers that her archaeology professor is available in every way except one.

Tibby: Leaves behind someone she loves, wrongly believing he will stay where she has left him.

Join Ann Brashares's beloved sisterhood once again in a dazzling, fearless novel. It's a summer that will forever change the lives of Lena, Carmen, Bee, and Tibby, here and now, past and future, together and apart.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Carmen, Lena, Bridget and Tibby may not be forever in blue jeans, but they do share the Traveling Pants for at least one more summer. Fans rejoin the foursome just after their freshman year in college. Carmen is attending a summer theater program in Vermont, where she unexpectedly lands a plum role and must contend with her roommate's attempts to sabotage her performance. Enrolled in a summer painting class at Rhode Island School of Design, Lena falls for a fellow student and also receives a surprise visit (his specialty) from Kostos, her former Greek beau. On an archeological dig in Turkey, Bridget finds herself attracted to a professor (who's married). And Tibby, in the most poignant story line, becomes reclusive while taking film classes at NYU, and breaks up with her devoted boyfriend, Brian, after their first sexual encounter results in a pregnancy scare. Brashares credibly recounts the emotional turmoil surrounding the girls' love, peer and family tribulations. There is just passing mention of "the Pants" and their special powers until novel's end, when the jeans, through a rather unlikely set of circumstances, disappear in Greece-an event that bands the four friends together in a countrywide search. The series' legion followers will eagerly follow each gal through her summer of ups and downs and will again be heartened by the teens' rock-solid friendship. Ages 12-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA - Angie Hammond
In the fourth and final installment of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, Brashares splendidly conveys the difficulty of retaining childhood friendships after leaving home for college. As their lives take them in different directions, the girls are challenged to recreate themselves, a process intensified by the loss of the close friendships that they once shared. Boys are an issue, but the focus is on the girls finding their own way within various relationships rather than on defining themselves through these relationships. Lena sees herself in a new light after an affair with a fellow art student. Carmen concludes that it is okay for all things to grow and change after losing her childhood home and the comfortable role she had as an only child. Bridget faces the fact that relationships do not always pan out the way that she thinks they should, but she eventually puts it aside to reconnect with Eric after a summer apart. Tibby and Brian suffer a setback after a pregnancy scare makes them reconsider where they are and what they want in their lives. And the traveling pants, once the young women realize that they are no longer needed, disappear into thin air, leaving the girls confidently on their own. Depth of emotion on these tough issues is easily avoided by switching characters often. This light read is a great ending to the series. Sisterhood followers who are eagerly awaiting this final book will not be disappointed.
KLIATT - Claire Rosser
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, January 2007: The friends (Tibby, Carmen, Bridget, and Lena) have finished their first year of university and are finding it difficult to get together this fourth summer of the traveling pants. Tibby and Brian's relationship is growing closer and yet when they have sex, it somehow destroys the love and trust between them, and Lena's younger sister moves in on Brian when Tibby drops him. Lena is taking a painting class, figuring that she is finally over the pain of Kostos's betrayal; yet when she gets closer to another painter and even falls for him and has an affair, in the end she knows she still isn't finished with Kostos. The other two have their own summer adventures, with the four passing the traveling pants back and forth as usual. Carmen, after wallowing in low self-esteem and confusion, finds herself (literally) in a challenging theatrical production; Bridget is in Turkey learning how much she loves archaeology, and confused about her long-distance relationship with Eric. It's Lena's sister who goes to Greece at the end of the summer, and it is she who causes a crisis involving the traveling pants—a crisis that finally brings the friends together. Fans of the series will certainly want to follow the lives of the four friends in this fourth book. Reviewer: Claire Rosser
Children's Literature - Karen Leggett
The fourth book in the "Traveling Pants" series finds Lena, Tibby, Carmen, and Bridget immersed in the full intensity of college and young adult life. The ubiquitous, magical jeans has helped the girls learn to be apart, but now "being apart wasn't the exception, it was the rule." Each learns (again) the value of true friendship, no matter the time or distance, but there is also much to be learned about young men, an ever-present theme. Independently and together, the girls struggle with issues of virginity, loyalty, and family values. Their struggles are honest and sincere, not cavalier, but readers might not agree with the choices the girls make; reading the book could open the door to discussing these issues for groups of girls or mothers and daughters. As in the past books in the series, there are many comments that will make readers smile softly with understanding. Toddlers and teenagers "both liked to leave their mother, so long as their mother did not move…Carmen's mother did move. She was a moving target. Home was a time and no longer a place." The conclusion of the story which has captured imaginations across many generations is unexpected and yet, quite perfect—and not to be spoiled by announcing it in advance!
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up
In their latest episode, Bridget goes to Turkey on an archaeological excavation and Lena takes a painting class in Providence. Tibby stays in New York to take classes, and Carmen attends a theater festival in Vermont to work as backstage crew. There are new love interests, loss of virginity, and breakups and makeups. The themes are familiar, but fans who already identify with the characters will want to read more about their latest exploits. The pants pay a more prominent role than they did in the third book and a significant event takes place as each teen receives them. The possibilities and impossibilities of love are explored as Bridget is attracted to the married leader of the excavation team and Tibby fears she is pregnant. When Carmen auditions and lands a major role in the theater production, she worries that she cannot handle the part. Although squeamish at first, Lena becomes attracted to a fellow art student when they agree to pose in the nude for each other on weekends. Although the ending is a bit unrealistic, fans will surely suspend judgment as they delight in the story. The quotes from famous people that open each chapter are the most profound words in the book, but young romance readers and those wanting light fare will not be disappointed.
—Linda L. PlevakCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In the fourth, and apparently final, installment in the series, Lena, Carmen, Bridget and Tibby again go their separate ways, held together in friendship by their wise and magical Pants. Each wears the Pants for a while and sends them on, the Pants always fitting perfectly. The fairytale spirit of the narrative develops as the young women come to realize the Pants have taught them how to be together as friends, and how to be apart, too. Like the Pants, the third-person voice unites the individual stories, providing a consistent tone. Lively prose, snappy dialogue and a complex intertwining of four stories mark this outstanding series. First-time sex, fear of pregnancy and breaking up are presented delicately, with humor and poignancy. An ode to love and friendship to delight Brashares's legions of fans, who have spent a good deal of their young lives sharing the Pants along with the sisterhood. (Fiction. 12+)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781400098590
Publisher:
Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/09/2007
Series:
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Series, #4
Edition description:
Unabridged, 6 CDs, 6 hrs.
Product dimensions:
5.62(w) x 5.92(h) x 1.17(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

PROLOGUE
Once upon a time there were four girls. Young women, you might even say. And though their lives traveled in different directions, they loved each other very much.
Once upon a time before that, these same girls found a pair of pants, wise and magical, and named them the Traveling Pants.
The Pants had the magic of teaching these girls how to be apart. They taught them how to be four people instead of one person. How to be together no matter where they were. How to love themselves as much as they loved each other. And on a practical level, the Pants had the magic of fitting all four of them, which is hard to believe but true, especially considering only one of them (the blonde) was built like a supermodel.
Okay. Full disclosure. I am one of these girls. I wear these Pants. I have these friends. I know this magic.
I am in fact the blonde, though I was kidding about the supermodel part.
But anyway, as it happens with most kinds of magic, these Pants did their job a little too well. And the girls, being extraordinary girls (if you don’t mind my saying so), learned their lesson a little too well.
And so when the girls’ lives changed that final summer, the Pants, being wise, had to change too.

And that is how this tale of sisterhood began, but did not end.

———————————————————————
Gilda’s was the same. It always was. And what a relief too, Lena found herself thinking. Good thing you could count on human vanity and the onward march of fitness crazes requiring mats and mirrors.

Not much else was the same. Things were different, things were missing.
Carmen, for instance, was missing.

“I can’t really see how we can do this without Carmen,” Tibby said. As was the custom, she’d brought her video camera for posterity, but she hadn’t turned it on. Nobody was quite sure about when posterity started, or if maybe it already had.

“So maybe we shouldn’t try,” Bee said. “Maybe we should wait until we can do it together.”

Lena had brought the candles, but she hadn’t lit them. Tibby had brought the ceremonial bad eighties aerobics music, but she hadn’t put it on. Bee had gamely set out the bowls of Gummi Worms and Cheetos, but nobody was eating them.
“When’s that going to be?” Tibby asked. “Seriously, I think we’ve been trying to get together since last September and I don’t think it has happened once.”
“What about Thanksgiving?” Lena asked.

“Remember I had to go to Cincinnati for Great-grandma Felicia’s hundredth birthday?” Tibby said.
“Oh, yeah. And she had a stroke,” Bee said.
“That was after the party.”
“And Carmen went to Florida over Christmas,” Lena said. “And you two were in New York over New Year’s.”

“All right, so how about two weekends from now? Carmen will be back by then, won’t she?”

“Yeah, but my classes start on June twentieth.” Lena clasped her hands around her knees, her large feet bare on the sticky pine floor. “I can’t miss the first day of the pose or I’ll end up stuck in a corner or staring at the model’s kneecap for a month.”

“Okay, so July fourth,” Tibby said reasonably. “Nobody has school or anything that Friday. We could meet back here for a long weekend?”

Bee untied her shoe. “I fly to Istanbul on June twenty-fourth.”

“That soon? Can you go later?” Tibby asked.

Bridget’s face dimmed with regret. “The program put us all on this charter flight. Otherwise it’s an extra thousand bucks and you have to find your own way to the site.”

“How could Carmen miss this?” Tibby asked.

Lena knew what she meant. It wasn’t okay for any of them to miss this ritual, but especially not Carmen, to whom it had mattered so much.

Bee looked around. “Miss what, though?” she asked, not so much challenging as conciliating. “This isn’t really the launch, right?” She gestured to the Pants, folded obediently in the middle of their triangle. “I mean, not officially. We’ve been wearing them all school year. It’s not like the other summers, when this was the huge kickoff and everything.”

Lena wasn’t sure whether she felt comforted or antagonized by this statement.
“Maybe that’s true,” Tibby said. “Maybe we don’t need a launch this summer.”
“We should at least figure out the rotation tonight,” Lena said. “Carmen will just have to live with it.”

“Why don’t we keep up the same rotation we’ve had going till now?” Bridget suggested, straightening her legs in front of her. “No reason to change it just because it’s summer.”

Lena bit the skin around her thumbnail and considered the practical truth of this.
Summer used to be different. It was the time they left home, split up, lived separate lives for ten long weeks, and counted on the Pants to hold them together until they were reunited. Now summer was more of the same. Being apart wasn’t the exception, Lena recognized, it was the rule.

When will we all be home again? That was what she wanted to know.

But when she thought about it logically, she knew: It wasn’t just the answer that had changed, it was the question. What was home anymore? What counted as the status quo? Home was a time and it had passed.

Nobody was eating the Gummi Worms. Lena felt like she should eat one or cry. “So we’ll just keep up the rotation,” she echoed wanly. “I think I get them next.”
“I have it written down,” Tibby said.
“Okay.”
“Well.”
Lena looked at her watch. “Should we just go?”
“I guess,” Tibby said.
“Do you want to stop at Tastee Diner on the way home?” Bridget asked.
“Yeah,” Tibby said, gathering the effects of a ritual that hadn’t quite happened. “Maybe we can see a late movie after. I can’t handle my parents tonight.”
“What time are you guys taking off tomorrow?” Bee asked.

“I think our train’s at ten,” Tibby said. Lena and Tibby were taking the train together: Tibby was getting off in New York to start film classes and her Movieworld job, and Lena was heading up to Providence to change dorm rooms for the summer. Bee was spending a few days at home before she left for Turkey.
Lena realized she didn’t want to go home just yet either. She picked up the Pants and cradled them briefly. She had a feeling she could not name exactly, but one she knew she had not had in relation to the Pants before. She had felt gratitude, admiration, trust. What she felt now still contained allthat , but tonight it was mixed in with a faint taste of desperation.

If we didn’t have them, I don’t know what we would do, she found herself thinking as Bee pulled the door of Gilda’s shut behind them and they walked slowly down the dark stairs.

————
“Carmen, it is beautiful. I can’t wait for you to see it.”

Carmen nodded into the receiver. Her mother sounded so happy that Carmen had to be happy. How could she not be happy?

“When do you think you’ll move in?” she asked, trying to keep her voice light.
“Well, we will need to do some work. Some plastering, painting, refinishing the floors. There’s some plumbing and electrical to do. Hopefully we can get most of it out of the way before we move in. I hope it will be by the end of August.”
“Wow. That soon.”

“Nena, it has five bedrooms. Is that unbelievable? It has a beautiful backyard for Ryan to run around in.”

Carmen thought of her tiny brother. He could barely walk yet, let alone run. He was going to grow up with such a different life than the one Carmen had.
“So no more apartment, huh?”

“No. It was a good place for the two of us, but didn’t we always want a house? Isn’t that what you always said you wanted?”

She’d also wanted a sibling and for her mother not to be alone. It wasn’t always easy getting what you wanted.

“I’ll have to pack up my room,” Carmen said.

“You’ll have a bigger room in the new house,” her mother rushed to say.
Yes, she would. But wasn’t it a bit late for that? For having a house with a yard and a bigger room? It was too late to redo her childhood. She had the one she had, and it had taken place in her small room in their apartment. It was sad and strange to lose it and too late to replace it.

Where did that leave her? Without her old life and not quite coming up with a new one. In between, floating, nowhere. That seemed all too fitting, in a way.
“Lena dropped by yesterday to say hi and see Ryan. She brought him a Frisbee,” her mother mentioned a little wistfully. “I wish you were home.”
“Yeah. But I’ve got all this stuff going on here.”

“I know, nena.”
After she hung up with her mother, the phone rang again.
“Carmen, where are you?”

Julia Wyman sounded annoyed. Carmen glanced behind her at her clock.
“We’re supposed to be doing a run-through on set in . . . now!”

“I’m coming,” Carmen said, pulling on her socks as she held the phone with her shoulder. “I’ll be right there.”

She hustled out of her dorm and to the theater. She remembered along the way that her hair was dirty and she’d meant to change her pants, because the ones she was wearing made her feel particularly fat. But did it matter? Nobody was looking at her.

Julia was waiting for her backstage. “Can you help me with this?” For her role in the production, Julia wore a long tweed skirt, and the waist was too big for her.
Carmen bent down to work on the safety pin. “How’s that?” she asked, pinning the waistband in the back.

“Better. Thanks. How does it look?”
Julia looked good in it. Julia looked good in most things, and she didn’t need Carmen to tell her so. But Carmen did anyway. In a strange way, it was Julia’s job to look good for both of them. It was Carmen’s job to appreciate her for it.
“I think Roland is waiting for you onstage.”

Carmen stepped onto the stage, but Roland didn’t appear to be waiting for her. He didn’t react in any way when he saw her. These days she felt her presence had the same effect as a ghost—nobody noticed her, but the air suddenly got cold. Carmen squinted and tried to make herself small. She did not like being onstage when the lights were on. “Did you need something?” she asked Roland.
“Oh, yeah.” He was trying to remember. “Can you fix the curtain in the parlor? It’s falling off.”

“Sure,” she said quickly, wondering if she should feel guilty. Was she the one who put it up last?

She positioned the ladder, climbed up three rungs, and aimed a staple gun at the plywood wall. Set building was strange in that it was always about the impression, made to be seen from particular angles and not made to last. It existed in space and time not as a thing, but as a trick.
She liked the chunk sound of the staple clawing into the wall. It was one of the things she’d learned at college: how to operate a staple gun. Her dad was paying a lot of money for that.

She’d learned other stuff too. How to gain seventeen pounds eating cafeteria food and chocolate at night when you felt lonely. How to be invisible to guys. How not to wake up for your nine o’clock psychology class. How to wear sweatshirts almost every day because you felt self-conscious about your body. How to elude the people you loved most in the world. How to be invisible to pretty much everyone, including yourself.

It was lucky she’d gotten to know Julia. Carmen was very fortunate, she knew. Because Julia was one of the most visible people on campus. They balanced each other out. Without Julia on the campus of Williams College, Carmen privately suspected she might disappear altogether.
For more of this excerpt go to www.SisterhoodCentral.com!

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