Friday, December 29, 2006

Girls in Pants, Ann Brashares

Well now, that's not your normal and expected type of book for me to review, is it? Yeah, get over it. I needed to do a review. I was actually supposed to have one up yesterday, but I got lazy. I spent the day watching The Godfather with my hubs, then had to make him spaghetti. Who says tv isn't influential? Not his stomach, that's for sure.

So why am I doing a review of a YA book that's been out for over a year? Because I can. And also because it's a darn good book. The fact that the 4th book in the series is coming out soon has nothing to do with it. At all. Ok, maybe a little bit. The fact that it will be released January 9th, and I will be there waiting at Borders that morning, with my oldest daughter, and that we will argue all the way home about who gets to read it first is irrelevant, ok? Oh, and just so you know... I will win, because I am bigger. Also, because I have the Visa that will purchase the book. She won't complain too much though. Again, because I have the Visa. Also, because I'm a very fast reader, and she'll have the book before dinner, I'm sure. But that's that book, and this review is about this one. So here goes...

I was introduced to the Traveling Pants books a few years back by my daughter. She found the first one and wanted to read it. Like any mom wanting her daughter to love books, I bought it. However, unlike some moms, I read it first. That was the rule in our house. She could pick any book she wanted, but I got to read it first, just to be sure. It wasn't that I didn't trust her, it was just that I wanted to know what she was reading. Now the rule is that she can pick any book, but she understands that I can read it at any time. And if there is anything in it that I might get squicky about, she has to tell me before I find out on my own. I have to admit, she reads some darn good books. This series is proof to me that there are some really great YA authors out there!

Book 3, Girls In Pants, centers around The Third Summer of the Sisterhood. Basically, for those unfamiliar with the premise, four best friends found this magical pair of pants that fits them all to utter perfection. They are all just as different on the outside as they are on the inside, but The Pants don't seem to know that. Through two summers, The Pants have worked their magic in the lives of these young ladies, being there through joy and heartache. This summer though, these four might just need more than pants to make it through.

Bridget is heading off to coach soccer camp in Pennsylvania. She's the youngest coach there, only a few years older than her team. But even more than that, can she come face to face with The Boy from her past and walk away unscathed?

Lena wants more than anything to put thoughts of her old flame, Kostos, behind her. Immersing herself in an art project in order to win a much-meeded scholarship might be just the thing she needs to heal her broken heart.

Carmen meets the perfect guy, but is tortured about it. He seems to see her only at her best, and she knows there is more to her than what he's seeing. Does she bare her real self to him, or let him go on believing that she's really "Good Carmen"?

Tibby hates change. She doesn't want summer to start, because then it will end. When it ends, everyone is leaving, going off to college, starting new lives. If she could just keep things the same, everything would be fine. Why does the world keep moving forward when all she wants is for it to Pause for a while?

These are just a few of the dilemmas the young ladies must face during their last summer at home. With summer nearing its end, the world as they know it is almost over. How will they make it through all that this final summer has in store for them? Well, in The Pants, of course. And more importantly - Together.

Ms. Brashares is just freakin' brilliant, that's all I can say. She has managed to create this world where things like dead moms, and crazy grandmas, and boys that do you wrong, and girls that die, and friends that help you through it all, well, this world is right there, in your hands, as you turn the pages. I've read the first two books in the series and they are beautiful, but this one is beyond that. This one... oh, man, it's good!

This is a YA book I'm talking about, ok? But still, it put me right back there, into that very same summer that she's describing. I had three friends too, and we were a lot like the Septembers (so named because their moms were all friends during pregnancy and all gave birth in September). There was a smart one and a brash one and a beautiful one and a serious one. Just like this book though, we each got to be different things at different times. That's the beauty of friendship. You get to be all, and sometimes nothing, and that's ok. They'll still love you when the day is through, or even when the summer is over.

Each of the girls has a different passion, and Ms. Brashares is almost intimate with each of the things that define these young ladies. For Bridget, or Bee, it's sports. She breathes soccer, and running, and anything athletic. I know what she means when Bee talks about a natural high during a run, and I can almost feel my muscles straining with her. Carmen is so full of life that it oozes out of every pore. I get caught up in her exuberance. Lena is an artist, and seeing her family as she draws their portraits almost makes me think I could be proficient with some charcoal and a sketch pad (NOT!). And Tibby, the one who wants most for things to stay exactly the same, embraces life, in the most basic sense of the word, with such courage and bravery that it had tears streaming down my face.

I loved this book. Let me tell you that again, ok? I LOVED THIS BOOK. If you have a daughter that is anywhere between 13 and 20, you should buy her this book. If you are a young lady between 15 and 25, you should buy this book for yourself. If you are a woman, betwen 20 and 90, you should treat yourself to this fantastic read. Are you getting the idea that I'm going to read the next one first, and it has nothing to do with making sure it's ok for my daughter to read? I'm going to read it because I love this series, because I love getting sucked in to this world Ms. Brashares has created, where girls grow up and move on and learn to love and learn to let go, and still, through it all, cling tight to that wonderful gift they have been given. Yes, those magical pants are great. But the magic is not in what the Pants do for them. The magic is in what the Pants help them see, about each other, and about themselves.

Just do yourself a favor and read this book. Read the whole series. And then call up those friends of yours and tell them just how much they mean. Because you know, summer was over a few months ago, and things won't ever be the same again. But maybe, with a little luck and some magic Pants, you can feel that way again.

Keep turning those pages,


Marg said...

I swear I left a comment on this post last night!! I've read and enjoyed the first three books in this series! I am really, really looking forward to the fourth book in the series!

Alexis Jacobs said...

I LOVE this series. (And I am 31 lol) I can't wait until Jan 9!