It's been seven years since The
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants hit the book
shelves and became an almost immediate hit with teen
girls - with more than 7 million copies of the first
three books in print in
North America alone.
Brashares says that Forever in Blue, the fourth book following The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Second Summer of the Sisterhood and Girls in Pants, will be the last in the series, ending with a plot twist ensuring that it cannot be revived (although she reassures her fans that "it's not like I kill off any of the characters").
Once again Lena, Carmen, Bridget and Tibby go their separate ways, held together by the magical pants symbolic of their friendship.
Like the other volumes, Forever in Blue is told in a third person voice that unites the individual but interlinking stories. Issues of concern to older teens such as sex and the fear of pregnancy are explored with a light touch (even so, Brashares suggests that her books are not suitable for children under 12 years old), and there is a thread of humor and poignancy that runs through the book - which might be more apparent to an adult reader somewhat distanced from the late-teen age group than to the intended target audience.
The strength of this series is the inclusive nature of the girls' friendship. All too often close friendships among teenage girls seem to be based on the formation of cliques that derive their power from the fact that they are exclusive - girls can belong to the clique only if they follow the rules, which usually means not having (or admitting to have) close friends that the clique have not authorized. At the heart of the Traveling Pants novels there is a firm and lasting friendship between the four girls, but instead of being limited by this friendship they are empowered by it to expand their personal horizons.
This review was originally published in January 2007, and has been updated for the April 2008 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.
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