Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, The by Ann Brashares

Brashares, A. (2001). The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. New York, NY: Random House Children’s Books.

ISBN-13: 978-0385730587

Genre: Real fiction, Friendship, Coming of age

Reading level/ interest age: 12+

Plot summary:

Lena Kaligaris, Tibby Rollins, Bridget Vreeland, and Carmen Lowell are all best friends spending their first summer apart from one another. While shopping one day, Carmen finds a pair of jeans. All of the girls end up trying them on and it fits each one of them! Deemed magical, the group decide to take turns during their summer vacation wearing them. 

Lena goes to Santorini in Greece where she meets a lovely boy from town. Although Lena likes him, she has a difficult time expressing her feelings. A huge misunderstanding ends up causing a rift between her family and his. Can Lena work it out before the end of her trip?

Carmen decides to go to South Carolina to visit her father only to realize that he has gotten engaged to another woman. Betrayed, Carmen spends the summer trying to get home to her mother. It is apparent her father wants nothing to do with Carmen and her mother anymore. And how could her father marry someone so upsetting?

Bridget attends soccer camp in Baja. She falls madly in love with one of the coaches but their student-mentor relationship is forbidden. Will the two of them be able to work things out?
Meanwhile, Tibby is the only girl in the group to stay at home. She has a summer job working at a local supermarket where she meets a girl named Bailey. Tibby decides to make a documentary with Bailey and soon learns that Bailey has leukemia. Will Tibby end up surviving a summer filled with work and a difficult friendship?

Join these four on their wild summer vacation as they try to manage their hectic lives. Maybe some of the magic from those pants will rub off and help them to solve their problems…

Reader’s annotation:

A group of friends are all spending the summer apart. Who would have thought that a special pair of pants would help keep them all together?

Information about the author:

“Ann Brashares grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland with her three brothers and attended a Quaker school in the DC area called Sidwell Friends. She studied Philosophy at Barnard College, part of Columbia University in New York City. Expecting to continue studying philosophy in graduate school, Ann took a year off after college to work as an editor, hoping to save money for school. Loving her job, she never went to graduate school, and instead, remained in New York City and worked as an editor for many years. Ann made the transition from editor to full-time writer with her first novel, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

“When asked where the idea for the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants came from she replies: "It started with a conversation. A woman I used to work with, a dear friend, Jodi Anderson, talked about a summer where she and her friends had shared a pair of pants that wound up being lost. It was sad, but I loved the idea - a concrete thing in the middle of a great big, amorphous, rich world of fiction.

“Brashares and her husband, 42-year-old portrait painter Jacob Collins, live in a four-story building in the East 60s in New York with their three children, Susannah, Nate and Sam, who range in age from about 5 to 11. Jacob runs a classical painting school called the Water Street Atelier out of the house with about a dozen students at a time. In late 2006 the New York Times described him as ‘the ringleader of a group of youngish painters devoted to classical techniques’ with a style that is ‘so out, it may be in again’. He was recently named one of the art world’s most powerful people by Art & Auction magazine, and lately his paintings have been selling for as much as $125,000” (, 2011).

Curriculum ties: N/A

Booktalking ideas:

1.       Do you really believe one pair of pants could fit all the girls in the book?
2.       Why do you think the jeans symbolize their friendship so well?

Critical evaluation:

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is a coming-of-age story that follows four girls from very different backgrounds. Carmen is half Puerto Rican with a very bad temper and comes from a divorced family. Her character also struggles with body image issues as Carmen is amazed that she fits into the pants since she is the largest girl in the story. Tibby struggles with the responsibility of work and supporting a dying friend. Lena deals with her problem of being shy and learns to be independent. Lastly, Bridget explores her sexuality and tries to discover what a healthy love relationship involves. All of the girls represent a problems that a young teen goes through in life and I believe that this is a great book for young readers struggling with life issues. The book is very relatable as it covers a wide range of topics. 

At times, the story can be a little hard to follow. The points of view jump between the girls and, unlike the movie, the pants really do not play that large a part in the girl’s friendship. The reader becomes attached to a character and her story line but then just when becoming satisfied, the point of view will flip to another girl. All of the character’s stories are a bit depressing and the tone of the book is a bit dark despite the publicized light spin many people believe the book carries. Overall, Sisterhood is a great life lesson book that many teens can take away important ideas from.

Challenge issues: N/A

Why included:

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is a great friendship story that tells the girl’s different coming of age stories. It is about their life experiences growing up in different family dynamics and the power of their friendship through tough times. I have included this book because I believe it teaches kids about how to form and maintain close more adult related friendships rather than just the people a student associates with in school.

Reference: (2011). Ann Brashares. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from

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