From the Publisher
“Funny, perceptive, and moving.”—USA Today
“A complex book about a solid group of friends, with each one a strong and courageous individual in her own right. They form a true sisterhood of acceptance and support, resulting in a believable and inviting world.”—School Library Journal, Starred
“A feel-good novel of substance. . . . Move over, Ya-Ya Sisters.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred
“The loving depiction of enduring and solid friendship will ring true to readers, who will appreciate this recognition of one of life’s most important relationships.”—The Bulletin, Recommended
From the Hardcover edition.
A funky pair of dungarees and a strong friendship lie at the heart of this compelling coming-of-age novel. During the first summer they'll be separated from each other, four friends share a pair of second-hand jeans...and experience happiness, heartbreak, and all the complications of growing up.
First novelist Brashares successfully creates four distinct characters, each with her own story line, and ties them together with a creative device: a pair of pants purchased in a thrift shop. As four lifelong friends prepare to split up for the summer, they discover that the second-hand jeans look good on all of them, despite their different physiques. They promise to rotate the jeans among them and, upon their reunion at summer's end, record their favorite adventures on the pant legs. These magical pants serve as a substitute friend for each girl as she is tested that summer, from Carmen, who goes to visit her father only to find out he's engaged to a woman with two teenage kids, to Tibby, who befriends a precocious 12-year-old cancer victim. Even though they are separated for most of the summer, the friends communicate their love and understanding for one another (Tibby writes to Lena, "Don't torture yourself, Len. We love you too much," to console her friend for mistakenly accusing a cute neighbor boy of spying on her while she skinny dips in Greece). Their bonds, combined with a realistic portrayal of teen emotions (Tibby is embarrassed by the smock she has to wear to work at Wallman's, while Carmen boils with rage when the seamstress fitting her bridesmaid dress disparages her curvy figure), make for an outstanding and vivid book that will stay with readers for a long time. Readers will hope that Brashares chronicles the sisterhood for volumes to come. Ages 12-up. (Sept). Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Fun book! I have read many YA novels that focus on changing friendships, but never one that revolves around a pair of magical pants. I thought that the comparison between pants that make all wearers look and feel good and friendship was insightful and creative. Although I did not like the overgirlification of parts of itsuch as Lena falling madly in love with a guy she barely knewthe novel was mostly realistic, and I could identify with the characters. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants was enjoyable and meaningful at the same time, and that's sometimes a hard thing to find in YA literature. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2001, Delacorte, 304p, $14.95. Ages 12 to 18. Reviewer: Deana Rutherford, Teen Reviewer
Any story that begins "Once upon a time..." has to be good, and this one is. It is hard to imagine that one pair of thrift shop jeans could play such an important role in the lives of four teenage girls. The story begins before the birth of four teenagers when their mothers meet in an aerobics class. Although the mothers drift apart, the girls become close friends. A trip to the local thrift shop and one non-descript pair of jeans become the catalyst for a summer of change. How can one pair of jeans look so incredibly good on four different girls with four dramatically different figures? Its magical, at least that is what the teens think. "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" is born when the girls decide to send the jeans to each other over the summer. The journey of the traveling jeans takes the denim talisman from Greece where Lena discovers herself, to California where Bridget learns a life lesson, to South Carolina where Carmen must learn about family, and finally back home where Tilly discovers the real magic in them-or is it life?
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-During their 15th summer, four girls who have been lifelong friends spend the season apart. In a summer's launch ceremony, they decide to pass along among themselves a pair of thrift shop jeans which oddly seems to fit each of them, although Carmen, Tibby, Bridget, and Lena have very different physiques. Ann Bashares' novel (Delacorte 2001) uses this conceit to travel among the friends' four very different geographic locations, experiences, and self-realizations, making for a complex story in which each girl's voice is distinct both in text and in actress Angela Gothals' reading. Lena spends the summer in Greece, visiting her grandparents and gaining the courage to act instead of always observing quietly; Bridget attends soccer camp in Mexico and makes a dangerous game of flirting with a college-age counselor; Carmen has planned to spend the summer with her father but discovers, upon arriving in South Carolina, that he is about to remarry a woman who has two teens of her own; Tibby stays home in Washington, DC, working at a drugstore, and unexpectedly becomes friends with a 12-year-old girl who has leukemia. Each girl pushes the emotional limits of both herself and those around her. While the traveling pants themselves seem rather artificial, these emotions and the developments they inspire in the individuals and in their relationships ring absolutely true. The recorded version of this book makes it flow more easily than its print counterpart, due to Gothals' care in individuating every character's pitch and rhythm while remaining faithful to Brashares' words and the important pauses between passages.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
In this feel-good novel with substance, four teenage girls, friends since they were all born just weeks apart, are about to embark on their first summer as separate young women. Carmen, half-Hispanic, has a knack for math; Lena, the beauty of the group and self-conscious about her appearance, demonstrates artistic talent; Bridget is the tall soccer star; and Tibby, the rebel, sports a nose ring. Visiting grandparents for the first time in Greece, attending soccer camp in Mexico, spending the summer with dad in South Carolina, or working at home, how will these girls survive their time alone? Leave it to a pair of secondhand jeans, which, despite their various body shapes, fits all four perfectly. These magical jeans, dubbed the Traveling Pants, span the world, one week at a time, lending their mystical powers wherever they go. The pants become a metaphor for the young women finding their own strength in the face of new love, unexpected friendships and death, a father's remarriage, and a reckless relationship-and without their best friends. Debut novelist Brashares renders each girl individual and lovable in her own right, emphasizing growing up without growing apart. Move over, Ya Ya Sisters. (Fiction. YA)
Read an Excerpt
"Can you close that suitcase?" Tibby asked Carmen.
"It's making me sick."
Carmen glanced at the structured canvas bag splayed wantonly in the middle of her bed. Suddenly she wished she had all-new underwear. Her best satin pair was sprouting tiny ropes of elastic from the waistband.
"It's making me sick," Lena said. "I haven't started packing. My flight's at seven."
Carmen flopped the top of the suitcase down on the carpeted floor. She was working on removing navy-blue polish from her toenails.
"Lena, could you not say that word anymore?" Tibby asked, wilting a little on the edge of Carmen's bed. "It's making me sick."
"Which word?" Bridget asked. "Packing? Flight? Seven?"
Tibby considered. "All of them."
"Oh, Tibs," Carmen said, grabbing Tibby's foot from where she sat. "It's gonna be okay."
Tibby took her foot back. "It's gonna be okay for you. You're going away. You're going to eat barbecue all the time and light firecrackers and everything.
Tibby had nonsensical ideas about what people did in South Carolina, but Carmen knew not to argue with her.
Lena let out a little hum of sympathy.
Tibby turned on her. "Don't make that pity noise, Lena."
Lena cleared her throat. "I didn't," she said quickly, even though she had.
"Don't wallow," Bridget urged Tibby. "You're wallowing."
"No," Tibby shot back. She held up hands crossed at the wrist in a hex sign to ward off Bridget. "No pep talks. No fair. I only let you do pep talks when you need to feel better."
"I wasn't doing a pep talk," Bridget said defensively, even though she was.
Carmen made her wise eyebrows. "Hey, Tibs? Maybe if you're nasty enough, you won't miss us and we won't miss you."
"Carma!" Tibby shouted, getting to her feet and thrusting a stiff arm at Carmen. "I see through that! You're doing psychological analysis on me. No! No!"
Carmen's cheeks flushed. "I am not," she said quietly.
The three of them sat, scolded into silence.
"God, Tibby, what is anybody allowed to say?" Bridget asked.
Tibby thought about it. "You can say . . ." She glanced around the room. She had tears welling in her eyes, but Carmen knew she didn't want them to show. "You can say . . ." Her eyes lighted on the pair of pants folded on the top of a stack of clothes on Carmen's dresser. "You can say, 'Hey, Tibby, want those pants?"'
Carmen looked baffled. She capped the polish remover, walked over to her dresser, and held up the pants. Tibby usually liked clothes that were ugly or challenging. These were just jeans. "You mean these?" They were creased in three places from inattention.
Tibby nodded sullenly. "Those."
"You really want them?" Carmen didn't feel like mentioning that she was planning to throw them away. Bigger points if they mattered.
Tibby was demanding a little display of unconditional love. Then again, it was her right. Three of them were flying off on big adventures the next day, and Tibby was launching her career at Wallman's in scenic Bethesda for five cents over minimum wage.
"Fine," Carmen said benevolently, handing them over.
Tibby absently hugged the pants, slightly deflated at getting her way so fast.
Lena studied them. "Are those the pants you got at the secondhand place next to Yes!?"
"Yes!" Carmen shouted back.
Tibby unfolded them. "They're great."
The pants suddenly looked different to Carmen. Now that somebody cared about them, they looked a little nicer.
"Don't you think you should try them on?" Lena asked practically. "If they fit Carmen, they aren't going to fit you."
Carmen and Tibby both glared at Lena, not sure who should take more offense.
"What?" Bridget said, hopping to Lena's aid. "You guys have completely different builds. Is that not obvious?"
"Fine," Tibby said, glad to be huffy again.
Tibby pulled off her dilapidated brown cargo pants, revealing lavender cotton underwear. She turned her back to her friends for the sake of drama as she pulled on the pants. She zipped, buttoned, and turned around. "Ta-da!"
Lena studied her. "Wow."
"Tibs, you're such a babe," Bridget proclaimed.
Tibby tried not to let her smile get loose. She went over to the mirror and turned to the side. "You think they're good?"
"Are those really my pants?" Carmen asked.
Tibby had narrow hips and long legs for her small frame. The pants fell below her waist, hugging her hips intimately. They revealed a white strip of flat stomach, a nice inny belly button.
"You look like a girl," Bridget added.
Tibby didn't quarrel. She knew as well as anyone that she looked skinny and shapeless in the oversized pants she usually wore.
The pants bagged a little at her feet, but that worked for Tibby.
Suddenly Tibby looked unsure. "I don't know. Maybe somebody else should try them." Slowly she unbuttoned and unzipped.
"Tibby, you are crazy," Carmen said. "Those pants are in love with you. They want you for your body and your mind." She couldn't help seeing the pants in a completely new way.
Tibby threw them at Lena. "Here. You go."
"Why? They're meant to be yours, " Lena argued.
Tibby shrugged. "Just try them."
Carmen could see Lena glancing at the pants with a certain amount of interest. "Why not? Lena, try 'em."
Lena looked at the pants warily. She shed her own khakis and pulled them on. She made sure they were buttoned and sitting straight on her hips before she glanced in the mirror.
"Lenny, you make me sick," Tibby offered.
"Jesus, Lena," Carmen said. Sorry, Jesus, she added to herself reflexively.
"They're nice pants," Lena said reverently, almost whispering.
They were used to Lena, but Carmen knew that to the rest of the world she was fairly stunning. She had Mediterranean skin that tanned well, straight, shiny dark hair, and wide eyes roughly the color of celery. Her face was so lovely, so delicately structured, it kind of gave Carmen a stomachache. Carmen once confessed her worry to Tibby that some movie director was going to spot Lena and take her away, and Tibby admitted she had worried the exact same thing. Particularly beautiful people were like particularly funny-looking people, though. Once you knew them you mostly forgot about it.
The pants clung to Lena's waist and followed the line of her hips. They held close to the shape of her thighs and fell exactly to the tops of her feet. When she took two steps forward, they appeared to hug each of her muscles as they shifted and moved. Carmen gazed in wonder at how different was their effect from Lena's bland uniform of J. Crew khakis.
"Very sexy," Bridget said.
Lena snatched another peek at the mirror. She always held herself in a slightly awkward way, with her neck pushed forward, when she looked in a mirror. She winced. "I think maybe they're too tight," she said.
"Are you joking?" Tibby barked. "They are beautiful. They look a million times better than those lame-o pants you usually wear."
Lena turned to Tibby. "Was that a compliment somewhere in there?"
"Seriously, you have to have them," Tibby said. "They're like . . . transforming."
Lena fiddled with the waistband. She was never comfortable talking about the way she looked.
"You are always beautiful," Carmen added. "But Tibby's right . . .you look . . . just . . . different."
Lena slid the pants off her hips. "Bee has to try them."
"You do," Lena confirmed.
"She's too tall for them," Tibby said.
"Just try," Lena said.
"I don't need any more jeans," Bridget said. "I have, like, nine pairs."
"What, are you scared of them?" Carmen taunted. Stupid dares like that always worked on Bridget.
Bridget grabbed them from Lena. She took off her dark indigo jeans, kicked them into a pile on the floor, and pulled on the pants. At first she tried to pull the pants way up on her waist, so they would be too short, but as soon as she let go, the pants settled gracefully on her hips.
"Doo-doo-doo-doo," Carmen sang, hitting the notes of the Twilight Zone theme.
Bridget turned around to look at her backside. "What?"
"They're not short; they're perfect," Lena said.
Tibby cocked her head, studying Bridget carefully. "You look almost . . . small, Bee. Not your usual Amazon."
"The insult parade marches on," Lena said, laughing.
Bridget was tall, with broad shoulders and long legs and big hands. It was easy to think she was a big person, but she was surprisingly narrow through her hips and waist.
"She's right," Carmen said. "The pants fit better than your usual ones."
Bridget switched her butt in front of the mirror. "These do look good," she said. "Wow. I think I may love them."
"You've got a great little butt," Carmen pointed out.
Tibby laughed. "That from the queen of butts." She got a troublemaking look in her eyes. "Hey. You know how we find out if these pants are truly magical?"
"How?" Carmen asked.
Tibby jiggled her foot in the air. "You try them on. I know they're yours and all, but I'm just saying, scientifically speaking, that it is impossible for these pants to fit you too."
Carmen chewed the inside of her cheek. "Are you casting aspersions on my butt?"
"Oh, Carma. You know I envy it. I just don't think these pants are going to fit over it," Tibby explained reasonably.
Bridget and Lena nodded.
Suddenly Carmen was afraid that the pants that hugged each of her friends' bodies with loving grace would not fit over her upper thighs. She wasn't really chubby, but she had inherited her backside directly from the Puerto Rican half of the family. It was very nicely shaped, and most days she felt proud of it, but here with these pants and her three little-assed friends, she didn't feel like standing out like the big fatso.
"Nah. I don't want them," Carmen said, standing up and getting ready to try to change the subject. Six eyes remained fixed on the pants.
"Yes," Bridget said. "You have to."
"Please, Carmen?" Lena asked.
She saw too much anticipation on her friends' faces to drop it without a fight. "Fine. Don't expect them to fit or anything. I'm sure they won't."
"Carmen, they're your pants," Bridget pointed out.
"Yeah, smarty, but I never tried them on before." Carmen said it with enough force to ward off further questions. She pulled off her black flares and pulled on the jeans. They didn't stop at her thighs. They went right up over her hips without complaint. She fastened them. "So?" She wasn't ready to venture a look in the mirror yet.
Nobody said anything.
"What?" Carmen felt cursed. "What? Are they that bad? She found the courage to meet Tibby's eye. "What?"
"I . . . I just . . ." Tibby trailed off.
"Oh my," Lena said quietly.
Carmen winced and looked away. "I'll just take them off, and we'll pretend this never happened," she said, her cheeks flushing.
Bridget found words. "Carmen, that's not it at all! Look at yourself! You are a thing of beauty. You are a vision. You are a supermodel."
Carmen put her hand on her hip and made a sour face. "That I doubt."
"Seriously, look at yourself," Lena ordered. "These are magic pants."
Carmen looked at herself. First from far away, then from up close. From the front and then the back.
The CD they'd been listening to ended, but nobody seemed to notice. The phone was ringing distantly, but nobody got up to get it. The normally busy street was silent.
Carmen finally let out her breath. "These are magic pants.
From the Hardcover edition.