Synopses & Reviews
Granted, Tibby was in a mood. All she could see was change. All anybody talked about was change. She didnt like Bees wearing heels for the second day in a row. She felt peevish about Lenas getting three inches trimmed off her hair. Couldnt everybody just leave everything alone for a few minutes?
Tibby was a slow adjuster. In preschool, her teachers had said she had trouble with transitions. Tibby preferred looking backward for information rather than forward. As far as she was concerned, shed take a nursery school report card over a fortune-teller any day of the week. It was the cheapest and best self-analysis around.
Tibby saw Gildas through these same eyes. It was changing. Its glory days of the late nineteen eighties were far behind it. It was showing its age. The once-shiny wood floor was scratched and dull. One of the mirror panels was cracked. The mats looked as old as Tibby, and theyd been cleaned much less. Gildas was trying to get with the times, offering kickboxing and yoga, according to the big chalkboard, but it didnt look to Tibby like that was helping much. What if it went out of business? What a horrible thought. Maybe Tibby should buy a subscription of classes here? No, that would be weird, wouldnt it?
“Tibby, you ready?” Lena was looking at her with concerned eyebrows.
“What if Gildas closes?” Tibby opened her mouth, and that was what came out.
Carmen, holding the Traveling Pants, Lena, lighting the candles, Bee, fussing with the dimmer switches near the door, all turned to her.
“Look at this place.” Tibby gestured around. “I mean, who comes here?”
Lena was puzzled. “I dont know. Somebody. Women. Yoga people.”
“Yoga people?” Carmen asked.
“I dont know,” Lena said again, laughing.
Tibby was the one most capable of emotional detachment, but tonight it all lay right on the surface. Her irrational thoughts about Gildas made her feel desperate, like its demise could swallow up their whole existence—like a change in the present could wipe out the past. The past felt fragile to her. But the past was set, right? It couldnt be changed. Why did she feel such a need to protect it?
“I think its Pants time,” Carmen said. The snacks were out. The candles were lit. The egregiously bad dance music played.
Tibby wasnt sure she wanted it to be Pants time yet. She was having enough trouble maintaining control. She was scared of them noticing what all this meant.
Too late. Out of Carmens arms came the artifacts of their ritual. The Pants, slowly unfolding from their winter compression, seeming to gain strength as they mixed with the special air of Gildas. Carmen laid them on the ground, and on top of them the manifesto, written on that first night two years before, describing the rules of wearing them. Silently they formed their circle, studying the inscriptions and embroidery that chronicled their summer lives.
“Tonight we say good-bye to high school, and bye to Bee for a while,” Carmen said in her ceremonial voice. “We say hello to summer, and hello to the Traveling Pants.”
Her voice grew less ceremonial. “Tonight we are not worrying about good-bye to each other. Were saving that for the beach at the end of the summer. Thats the deal, right?”
Tibby felt like kissing Carmen. Brave as she was, even Carmen was daunted by the implications of looking ahead.
“Thats the deal,” Tibby agreed heartily.
The last weekend of the summer had already become sacred in their minds. Sacred and feared. The Morgans owned a house right on the beach in Rehoboth. They had offered it to Carmen for that final weekend, in part, Carmen suspected, because they had gotten an au pair from Denmark and felt guilty about not hiring Carmen to babysit this summer as she had done the summer before.
The four of them had promised each other in the spring that it would be their weekend. The four of them and nobody else. They all depended upon it. The future was unfurling fast, but whatever happened this summer, that weekend stood between them and the great unknown.
They all looked ahead to college in different ways, Tibby knew. They all had different amounts to lose. Bee, in her lonely house, had nothing. Carmen did; she dreaded saying good-bye to her mother. Tibby feared leaving the familiarity of her chaos. Lena flipped and flopped—one day she was afraid to cut ties, and the next she was dying to get away.
The thing they feared equally and powerfully was saying good-bye to one another.
After drawing for the Pants (Tibby won), reviewing the rules (unnecessary, but still part of tradition), and taking a brief hiatus to chew down some Gummi Worms, it was at last time for the vow. Like they had the summer before, they said it together.
“To honor the Pants and the Sisterhood
And this moment and this summer and the rest of our lives
Together and apart.”
Only this time, Tibby felt the tears fall when they said “the rest of our lives.” Because in the past that had always seemed like a distant road, and tonight, she knew in her heart, they were already on it.
From the Hardcover edition.
The Pants first came to us at the perfect moment. That is, when we were splitting up for the first time. It was two summers ago when they first worked their magic, and last summer when they shook up our lives once again. You see, we dont wear the Pants year-round. We let them rest so they are extra powerful when summer comes. (There was the time this spring when Carmen wore them to her moms wedding, but that was a special case.)
Now were facing our last summer together. In September we go to college. And its not like one of those TV shows where all of us magically turn up at the same college. Were going to four different colleges in four different cities (but all within four hours of one another—that was our one rule). Were headed off to start our real lives.
Tomorrow night at Gildas well launch the Pants on their third summer voyage. Tomorrow begins the time of our lives. Its when well need our Pants the most.
From the Hardcover edition.
4 girls, 3 summers, and 1 pair of pants!
For the first time ever, all three novels in the #1 New York Times bestselling series are available in this terrific boxed set, which includes an exclusive magnet frame and magnets of the Pants.
LENA, CARMEN, BRIDGET, and Tibby have been through a lot together. But even after traveling across the world to keep these four very different friends connected, the pants remain strong, uncuffed—and remarkably flattering. Relive the magic of the pants with these four novels of strength, heartbreak, love, family, and friendship.
About the Author
Ann Brashares is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Here and Now, the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, 3 Willows, The Last Summer (of You & Me), and My Name Is Memory. She lives in New York City with her husband and their four children.
Reading Group Guide
1. The novel opens with a first-person narrative by Tibby. Why do you think the author selected this character to frame the story? Would you have selected another character, and if so, what would he or she say?
2. Epigraphs (short quotations) from a variety of sources-song lyrics, remarks by real-life personalities, fictitious sayings by the novels characters-are used to separate sections of the book. Which one is your favorite? Why?
3. Of the four girls, whom are you most like? Whose first year of college would you most like to follow?
4. "Our shared childhood is ending. Maybe well never live at home again. Maybe well never all live in the same place again. Were headed off to start our real lives. To me that is awe-inspiring, but it is also the single scariest thought in the world" (p. 5). The girls realize that leaving for college is much bigger than leaving each other for just a summer. Do you think each of the girls is prepared to be away from her friends for an entire year? Whose first year do you most worry about? How would you prepare to leave your friends?
5. On page 3, Tibby compares each of the girls to a car. What kind of car would you be? Why?
6. "Tibby was a slow adjuster. In preschool, her teachers had said she had trouble with transitions. Tibby preferred looking backward for information rather than forward. As far as she was concerned, shed take a nursery school report card over a fortune-teller any day of the week. It was the cheapest and best self-analysis around" (p. 10). By the end of the book, how has Tibby changed in her response to the new or unexpected? How have the other girls changed? Who has grown the most? How?
7. In both The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Girls in Pants, Carmen feels she doesnt belong in her family. How do her feelings differ from those of Bridget, Tibby, and Lena toward their families? Do the girls family relationships have an impact on their friendships? Are their perceptions of their situations valid, or do they sometimes overreact?
8. Do you think Lena and Kostos could have a future together? What would you suggest to Lena if she asked you for advice about Kostos and her feelings for him? What could Lena learn from Bridget and Erics relationship? What could Bridget learn from Lena?
9. Each of the girls has one person who pushes her toward self examination this summer. Carmen has Valia, Tibby has Katherine, Lena has Annik, and Bridget has Eric. What does each of the girls learn about herself through these influences? Do you have someone in your life who pushes you to learn new things about yourself?
10. "There was a funny thing about Carmen, and she knew it all too well: She could understand and analyze and predict the exact outcome of her crazy, self-destructive behavior and then go ahead and do it anyway" (p. 115). What do you think of Carmens "Good Carmen vs. Bad Carmen" descriptions? Do certain people draw out a "good" or "bad" version of you? Why?
11. The four girls have very different approaches to relationships and love. By the end of Girls in Pants, three of them have found boyfriends with whom they are happy. Are there similarities in the ways the girls approach the search for love? Differences? Do you think their romantic relationships will change anything, good or bad, about their friendships?
12. The Pants have always provided the girls with confidence and security. If you were a member of the Sisterhood, would you adjust the rules to allow use of the Pants year-round for this first year of college? Why or why not?
"Readers of the other books won't be disappointed." - Booklist,
"Filled with conversations, action, & life." - Kliatt, Starred
"The girls are once again wonderfully drawn, with all their realistic faults." - Publishers Weekly
"The Pants set will bruise their fingertips on this page-turner." - The Bulletin, Recommended
From the Paperback edition.
Q. Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood takes Bridget, Carmen, Lena, and Tibby through their final summer together before they leave for different colleges. Did writing about this challenging, eye-opening time in the girls’ lives remind you of preparing to leave home for your freshman year? What were some of your expectations for your first year at college?
A. I remember thinking it was a huge deal to go to college. I just knew that my life would never be the same again–that leaving home would effectively divide my life into two parts. And it did. I remember packing my trunk and feeling nostalgic in an almost preemptive way. But then, I’ve always been susceptible to a malady I call over-dread, where you imagine and fear something so exhaustively that the real event, when it arrives, seems relatively easy in comparison. A few of my characters suffer from that same malady, I think.
In leaving home, I relished the opportunity to change everything about myself I ever disliked (quite a list). And yet I also wanted to take my whole self with me. That same incompatibility continues to dog me, as it happens.
Back then, I remember feeling as Carmen does a few times–if you take yourself out of your context of family and hometown and friends, who exactly do you have left?
Q. “Last time they had started at the end. This time they started at the beginning. You couldn’t erase the past. You couldn’t even change it. But sometimes life offered you the opportunity to put it right” (p. 325). Why did you give Bridget the challenge of Eric all over again, especially in this crucial summer before she leaves her home for a new experience?
A. Bridget is so gifted and so strong, and yet she’s the most fragile of the characters in the Sisterhood. I have yearned to put stable ground under her feet. That process really started in The Second Summer, when she developed her relationship with Greta.
A lot of readers asked me to bring Eric back, and at first I didn’t want to. There is the kind of love that takes and the kind that gives, and you don’t usually find both with the same person. But then I thought about it more and I realized that he offered this great opportunity for her to shore up her past, to demonstrate to herself that she’s grown, that she can be different. The first summer with Eric, she tries to captivate him with this false idea of herself. She ends up feeling frail and used. But it’s not fair to say that Eric used her, precisely. More painful is Bee’s knowledge that she used herself.
In this third book, Bridget presents herself honestly to Eric, both in strength and in weakness. She has to really fight with herself to keep honest, but she does. At the end of the summer, she knows he loves her for who she actually is. On a deep level she knows that’s the kind of love that sustains.
Q. Tibby, Carmen, and Bridget find love in Girls in Pants. Lena is the only one of the four left without a romantic relationship. But Lena was the one who originally had the most trouble believing in love, and letting herself fall for Kostos. Why did you choose to leave her out of a new experience in love?
A. Love-wise, poor Lena has been through the wringer. Because I am supposedly the ruler of their world, I mostly try to arrange love to happen for them when it is right and good. And I think Lena has a way to go before she’s ready to try it again. She’s been too much defined by the people she loves, too much at the margins of her own life. I think she needs to take herself seriously, to take more of a stand for herself, which is largely what she’s up to in this third summer.
Q. Throughout Girls in Pants, the girls seem hesitant about how their relationships with friends and family will change when they’re apart for the year. How did your relationships change when you left home for your first year of college?
A. Inevitably, relationships do change. I’ve held on to some good friends, and a few others have gradually slipped away (I from them or they from me– it is always hard to say). Relationships in close proximity seem to roll along with a certain organic momentum. Relationships at a distance require a bit more prodding. They are more likely to slow and stop, and you need to be ready to restart them. I’m not so great at that.
It’s funny. I’ve always idealized great relationships as a meeting of minds and souls, but as I get older I realize how much it matters that you get to gossip over donuts.
Q. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, your debut novel, became a major motion picture, bringing even more acclaim to your already successful series. How did it feel watching your story unfold on the big screen?
A. It was thrilling and also strange. Watching the movie, I felt connected to it, but I also felt like it was something apart from me and the work I do. It’s fascinating to have a lot of creative minds lend their gifts to a project like that. It gave me insight into the story and characters. It allowed me to see it in different ways.
Writing is solitary, of course. Sometimes you feel like your ideas echo around in your brain, and you wonder if they relate to anything real or meaningful in the world. The quality of the movie, the hard work it represented from the director and the actors and many others, made me feel like I had played a role in something both real and meaningful.
Q. Would you eventually like to see Second Summer, Girls in Pants, and Sisterhood #4 made into movies? Do you think about how a director would interpret your story while you’re writing Sisterhood #4?
A. I had such a good experience watching the adaptation of the first book that I would happily look forward to more. I trust that a movie can absolutely do justice (and more) to a book. At the same time, my books and characters have lives apart from movies. They will go on, unimpeded, whether or not they ever get filmed again. As a writer, I think in terms of books. I leave movies to the experts.
Q. The fourth Sisterhood book is the last you’re planning to write about these characters for now. Are you ambivalent about leaving them? Do you wonder how their lives will turn out, if their dreams will be realized? Would you want to revisit the girls of the Sisterhood as adults at some point?
A. I am terribly ambivalent about leaving them. I love thinking about them and writing about them. I love seeing what they will do next.
At the same time, I think it is good for any literary enterprise to have a shape. The shape of this one–beginning, expanding, and ending–is four books. I wouldn’t feel like a real storyteller if I just left it open-ended, following these characters somewhat aimlessly into the future. Granted, life does tend to amble aimlessly. But my business thus far is fiction.
That said, I do intend, at some point, to figure out what happens to these young women. I am too invested in their futures not to care. I think I would like to march ten or twenty years into their lives and see what’s happened. Maybe there will be a novel in that. Maybe not. I sort of hope there will be.
Q. How has your success influenced your writing, or has it? Has the success of Traveling Pants, Second Summer, and Girls in Pants influenced how you’re approaching Sisterhood #4?
A. I love the fact that my books have connected with a lot of people. That is the luckiest and nicest thing, and I appreciate it all the time. If I forget to appreciate it, even briefly, I give myself a little kick to start again. That lovely feeling of connection has made subsequent books harder to start (the pressure) but somehow easier to finish (I imagine a lot of company along the way).
But success is a term I don’t completely absorb. I have this odd idea that success will mean that brownies won’t make you fat and fashion will become natural to you and that jars of spaghetti sauce will open for you without your having to shout for your husband. I think it should mean you don’t doubt and falter and do incredibly stupid things. In that sense, I have not achieved it.
Q. What types of projects would you like to work on in the future? Do you worry about being able to please all your Sisterhood fans with the next book you write?
A. There are so many other things I want to write. One of them is a freestanding novel–a sort of love triangle with lots of romance and tragedy. I’ve been thinking a lot about that one recently. I can’t wait to start it.
And, yes, it is hard to move beyond the characters of the Sisterhood. But then, I expect those girls to go on to bigger and better things. I ask the same of myself.