Monday, October 10, 2011

Past and Present: Forever in Blue: The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood

I remember first reading about Tibby, Lena, Carmen, and Bridget when I was in late elementary school or early junior high and completely falling in love with their friendship. I was so jealous that there were people (okay, I realize they're characters) who had such strong friendships like this, other girls that they could count on whether they were together or apart, making good choices or less than awesome ones. I adored the first book, was less enthused about the second, and fell in love all over again with the third.

And then, just like the girls do in the books, we drifted apart. I learned a few years later that a fourth installment had been written, but it become just another title on my extremely long "books to read" list. The book would always be there in the same way that The Pants would be for the Septembers. It wasn't until the 5th installment of the series, Sisterhood Everlasting, came to the library where I work that I realized how much I missed these girls and this story. I checked out both books and in the spirit of the fact that today it's 79 degrees out and a day off from work, I soaked up the entire fourth summer of the sisterhood sitting in the sunshine.

Ann Brashares has so lovingly shared this sisterhood with YAs and adults for years, and this chapter in their journey is no exception. Part of this may be nostalgia talking, but anyone who reads this book can see the immense care that Brashares has taken to accurately show what it's like to be a teenager in today's world and how easy it can be to lose touch with the people who matter most to us despite the fact that technology or a pair of pants connecting happen. Emails, texting, letters, and phone calls are never quite the same as being in the same space as those we hold dear.

One aspect of Forever in Blue that shines is its ability to tell not just the story of one summer, but really four summers. The pants have become little more than a "thinking of you" greeting card and though they aren't present very often, it is summertime and they are able to work their magic in small ways. In them Carmen is able to start rediscovering the confidence she's lost, Tibby hopes to find comfort in a time of uncertainty, Lena tries to look forwards rather than back, and Bee realizes she can't move to the future without acknowledging the past.

Old and new characters wrap their way into the lives of this colorful quartet and I was thrilled to revisit these girls again. I am now more anxious than ever to read Sisterhood Everlasting which takes place ten years later. These books have simple plots that explore a complex time in anyone's life and stress the ideas to love yourself, be yourself, and true friends are always there, whether you're together or apart.

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