Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
The novel opens with a first-person narrative by Lena. Why do you think
the author selected this character to frame the story? If you could change
it, would you select another character, and if so, what would he or she say?
Self-destructive and hurting, Bridget impulsively decides to journey to
Alabama and conceal her identity from her estranged grandmother. She didnt
look like Bee Vreeland. Who said she had to be her? (p. 21). Have you ever
wished you could be someone else? How does posing as Gilda help Bridget
learn to be comfortable in her own skin?
Each of the girls is embarrassed by her mother (or mother figure)Carmen
by Christinas new romance, Lena by Aris Greekness, Tibby by Alices
Mozart-playing cell phone and diaper-wipe-trailing shoes, and Bridget by
Gretas life, so small, and so simple, and so completely unremarkable (p.
280). In turn, each girl does something to embarrass her mother, with
behavior that is often cruel. How could the girls have handled their
situations differently? By humiliating their mothers, what do the girls of
the Sisterhood learn about themselves?
Tibby gets caught up in trying to appear cool and sophisticated in front
of Alex and Maura. She wondered. Had she not brought Brian because she was
worried about how he would seem to Alex and Maura? Or was it because she
worried about how she, Tibby, would seem to Brian? (p. 105). Do people
judge you by the company you keep? Sometimes people rebuff the ones they
love . . . why do you think Tibby pushes Brian away? If you were Brian,
would you give up on Tibby? Why or why not?
In The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Tibbys friend Bailey
is the only one outside the Sisterhood who wears the Pants. In The Second
Summer of the Sisterhood, Christina has that role. Carmen notes (p.
156), The sick thing was, Christina looked beautiful in the Pants, slender
and young. They fit Christina. They loved her and believed in her just as
theyd loved Carmen last summer, when Carmen had been worthy of them. This
summer they eluded Carmen. Instead, they chose her mother. And on Bridgets
fifth day in Alabama, the Traveling Pants arriveand they dont fit her
anymore. What is the emotional impact of these incidents on Carmen and
Bridget? Is there a larger issue at play?
Epigraphs (short quotations) from a variety of sourcessong lyrics,
remarks by real-life personalities, fictitious sayings by the novels
charactersare used to separate sections of the book. Which one is your
favorite, and why?
Lena loves being in Carmens kitchen. It felt safe and contained (p.
81), and the food is comforting as well. Do you have a favorite place that
makes you feel protected and secure? How do people make a place special?
Does Bridget find what shes looking for in Alabama? How does spending
time with Greta teach her about Marly? How is Bridget changed by this
Ari tells Lena intimate details of her love affair. Do you think Lena is
prepared for such information? Is it better for parents to shield their
children from some of their own experiencesor do you think sharing them can
help prevent heartache? On page 345, the narrator writes, Lena was starting
to need to go back to being the daughter again. Have you ever been the
recipient of knowledge that you didnt feel equipped to handle?
Which of the girls would you most like to be? Which girl would make the
best friend for you? Which motherChristina, Ari, Alice, or Gretawould you
most like to have?
Is Kostos a man of honor or a coward? How do you view his behavior? Lena
broke up with Kostosis she justified in thinking, But that didnt mean you
were allowed to stop loving me (p. 193)?
Carmen and Lena remain at home for most of the novel. Do you think the
girls friendship would be stronger if all four girls were together? Or do
you believe Lena, who tells us in the prologue (p. 4), We didnt realize
that we are bigger and stronger and longer than the time we spend together?
At the end of the novel, the remaining original SeptembersAlice, Ari,
and Christinaare reunited. What does this teach the girls of the
Sisterhood? Think about the women in your own lifemothers, grandmothers,
aunts. Can you imagine their having a life before you?
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers.
Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.
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