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Girls in PantsReview - Girls in Pants
The Third Summer of the Sisterhood
by Ann Brashares
Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2005
Review by Amy Ridley
Mar 18th 2005 (Volume 9, Issue 11)

The girls from the Sisterhood are back for their third summer with the Traveling Pants.† Tibby, Lena, Carmen, and Bridget are facing their last summer together before going their separate ways for the first time, when they head to college in the fall.† They're all facing new challenges as the summer starts but they're all counting on the Traveling† Pants to prove their worth once again.† The Pants, which they found in a thrift store and fit each girl perfectly despite their very different builds, have given each girl the confidence that they have needed to get through some hard times.† The rules of the Sisterhood still apply such as not washing the pants and passing them on to each other with love.† As each girl learns, the Pants will be needed this summer more than any other.

Tibby is unsure of letting her relationship with one of her closest friends turn into more than a friendship.† She likes the comfort that her friendship with Brian provides and the easiness of being with him, but does not know how to proceed once the friendship moves beyond just friends.† She does not want to lose her confidante or her biggest cheerleader.† Her much younger brother and sister are still major sources of resentment for her but an accident involving her sister makes her take stock of her true feelings towards them.† Her guilt about the accident may allow her to see who she has been frustrated with all along.†

Carmen is trying to accept her new step-dad when she finds out that her mom is pregnant.† She has always had her mother all to herself and is beginning to realize that she is not the only one who is starting all over again in the fall when she goes to college.† Her mother is making a whole new family for herself and Carmen is not sure if that family will still include her. She may end up a stranger in her own mother's life.† She has always used her temper to express herself and this crisis does not change that, leaving her feeling like a terrible person.† Her new summer job aiding Lena's grumpy grandmother allows her to see what wallowing in self-pity will do to a person.† Carmen meets someone who sees her in a very different light than the fiery one she sees herself in, but can she really be what that person sees?

Lena is still trying to get over losing the love of her life and is finding more and more comfort in her painting.† She has signed up for an art class and is finding that art may be the love of her life.† Her father has allowed her painting up until this point but has decided that a good Greek girl like her needs a more practical profession and will not pay for art school in the fall.† Lena is now confronted with obeying her father or following her passion.† She has always had trouble expressing herself but she made need to do it now more than ever.

Bridget has always been out of control.† Since her mother died when she was younger, she's the one everyone has had to look after.† She has been able to put many of her demons behind her and is ready for a fresh start at college.† That is until she runs into her biggest demon at soccer camp, her crush from two summers ago.† She is going to need her new level-headedness and the support brought by her friends and the Pants more than ever.

Brashares tackles many topics that teens face today like the uncertainty of the future, newfound independence, new family dynamics and allowing new people into their comfort zone.† Each of the girls tackle these problems in their own style and they are woven together brilliantly.† The feelings of resentment that Carmen and Tibby feel towards their parents for having new children is genuine and refreshing.† They do not become the big sisters that readers often see in books.† Their anger at being replaced and used as babysitters is real and shows their parents as flawed people as well.† Lena's struggle with her loyalty to her family is something that kids feel everyday.† Should they do the sensible thing that their parents want or should they follow their own passion and find out how hard it may be to succeed. Bridget's maturity is something that readers of this series have watched grow through each book.† Her frustration in this book is something we have all felt.† Having decided to leave something or someone behind only to have it resurface has happened or will happen to everyone.† How the new Bridget chooses to deal with it is what Brashares does the best.† She allows the girls to have their weaknesses and learn from them but it is not always the perfect ending.† There will still be problems for the girls to face but they have a little more understanding of why they have made their choices as they get older.

If there is a flaw to this book, it's that Brashares does not allow much† interaction between the new people coming into the girls' lives and the old ones who have been there all along.† The love interests rarely meet the other girls and that is something that the reader would enjoy, to see how the other girls react to them.† They know each other best and to hear their impression of the men in their lives would have been interesting.

The Pants are still there but not as prominent as in the first two books.† This may be because the girls are able to work through their issues more on their own or because as they get older they realize the love and support from their friends will be, even if they're not wearing the Pants.†

 

© 2005 Amy Ridley

Amy Ridley received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Boston University.

 

Link: Review of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, by Ann Brashares


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