Oh, come on. You guys knew this review was coming. I already told you I'd have the book the first day it came out. It did take me a little longer to read than I thought it would, but I'll explain that in the review. First though, I have some BUSINESS to take care of... like... "CARY", Contact us at *firstname.lastname@example.org*with your snail mail address! You've won a copy of Anne Stuart's Cold As Ice. If you get me your address really fast, I can mail it out on Saturday. Otherwise, it won't go out in the mail until Tuesday. I have to say, I really like the contests where I can put 15 names in an empty chocolate box and just pick one. That leaves me totally guilt free (as long as you don't count the fact that the chocolate box is empty, ahem). It also allows me to give away a LOT more books. In 2007, you'll find me reading and reviewing a lot more, and YOU get to benefit from that. I'm determined to send out about one book a week to one of you. It will always be an "extra" type of thing, apart from the FAB books that we're already determined to give away. It won't be signed, and it will be previously read (by me, only), but still, a free book is a free book, right? So just remember to check back often, because you never know which book I will put up for grabs. Now, on to the review...
***Hi lovelies, Chari-Dee here, I was just going to leave my thoughts on this book in the comments section, but since I have a bit to say, I thought I'd leave them at the end of dee's wonderful review. So, if your're interested, my comments are at the bottom in this color.***
Forever in Blue by Anne Brashares is the fourth and final installment in the YA "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" series. I've read the other three, and even reviewed the third one, Girls In Pants. I started this series because my oldest daughter wanted to try it, and I was at the stage where I read everything she wanted before she read it. She got hooked. So did I. The third books was one of the best books I've read in a long time, and I was eagerly awaiting the final book. The wait is over!
Lena, Tibby, Carmen, and Bee are all back, and bigger than life. They've finished their first year of college, and are trying to get together for the summer. Their lives have all grown beyond their hometown, and even beyond their friendship, it seems. When the ritualistic 'launching' of the Pants at the beginning of the summer fails to happen because one of them can't make it back to town, the girls wonder if things will ever be the way they used to be, before they began to grow up.
Lena is making her way in art school. She's found a small group of friends, and is eager to start summer studies. When a very talented student takes notice of her, will this signal the end of her pain over Kostos?
Bee is feeling neglected by her boyfriend, and decides that a summer dig in Turkey is just what she needs. Meeting a sexy, older man on the dig was not in her plans, but she's willing to go with the flow. At least for a while, it seems.
Tibby takes a giant step in her personal life, with frightening results. Can her heart take the solution that she comes up with?
Carmen goes from being one of the Somebody's to being virtually invisible. A new friend encourages her to try a summer theater workshop, as a set designer. Carmen soon learns that her friend is not who she seems, and Carmen is not nearly as invisible as she's come to feel.
Our girls gear up for their last summer with their beloved Pants. However, something seems to be keeping them apart. How do you hold on to the most important relationships of your life when everything around you seems to be changing? That's what they need to find out. Is it easier to let go, and learn to live in their new worlds, or to hold on tight to their friendship, no matter what?
What I didn't like: This book didn't draw me in as fast as the other ones did. Other people I've talked to mentioned the same thing. It felt disjointed to me. I didn't really connect with the girls until over halfway through the book. I'm still not quite sure why, but I hope Ms. Brashares intended this. I think it had to do with having the reader feel the distance between the girls, just as they were feeling it. Still though, it was almost too late by the time I finally got hooked, as I was just about ready to set it down and read someone else's review. That's sad for me to admit, but it's true. This one just wasn't as quick at pulling me straight into the story and making me feel as the other books have been. Also, knowing that my 14yo will read this book (if she's not already done with it), I wasn't totally pleased about some of the choices the girls made. Yes, I know they're 'growing up', but still... some of it really bothered me. Not to the point where I won't let her read it, ok? But this is more of the "A" than "Y" in the "YA" genre, if you follow my meaning.
What I did like: Despite how long it took for me to get involved, I finally did. When the girls finally got back to the basics, when they returned to the people that I'd known in the first 3 books, this one really got interesting to me. There are a few scenes that ripped my heart out, some things that were just so true, so real, Ms. Brashares could have been writing straight from my own diary. Carmen's angst over being invisible, her realization of what friendship really is, and finally her finding love for herself in the face of adversity, those scenes touched me. I think Lena grew up the most, Carmen changed the most, Bee angered me the most, and Tibby disappointed me the most, which is about what I expected.
Near the end, they all finally make it to the same place at the same time, courtesy, of course, of the pants. Seeing them together as the book, and series, comes to an end, I was reminded of what drew me to the story in the first place. Those were magical pants, with the power to make things good. They brought those girls closer, made them feel loved, made them feel connected even when they were apart. However, it wasn't about the Pants, really. The girls learn, again and maybe forever, that the magic that they attribute to the Pants is really the love that holds them together. Because, Pants or no Pants, at the end of the day, if you don't have your friends, what do you really have? Not too much, that's what.
Randomhouse has a great site set up, just for Pants fans. Go on over here and check it out. It's full of quizzes and factoids, and all sorts of stuff about the Girls, and the Pants. Be sure to leave us a comment and let us know what you thought of this book as well. While it took a while to pull me in, I'm really glad I read it. The friendship at the heart of the story makes it all worthwhile. I'm sorry to see the series end, but look forward to whatever Ms. Brashares writes next.
Keep turning those pages!
I have to agree with several points, dee did an awesome review. For one, I agree, several of the situations in the book do not technically fit in the YA genre. I think it is okay to test the limits of a genre, BUT, when it comes to YA, I think there is a boundary that should not be crossed, and Brashares was entirely too close to that boundary. The choices the girls made, in and of themselves, is not so much where I take issue. No, I take issue with the way the girls handled the aftermath of these situations. From one end of the spectrum to the next, the girls made decisions that were troubling and handled them poorly. I found this particularly true of Lena and Tibby.
I also took exception to the girl's use of alcohol in this book. OK, I remember what it was like being that age, I even remember drinking. The problem is, the girls drank with little words of caution or hard lessons learned because of the drinking. It was a casual thing, and the girls are not yet of drinking age. And while drinking is done frequently in real life by the under-age, I don't advocate it, and I think by having the girls drinking so easily, Brashares did a HUGE injustice to her younger readers.
As dee said, the beginning of the book felt very disjointed, and truth be told, even further into the book it still felt that way for me. The girls were older and the sentence structure Brashares uses did not match the content, situations, or vocabulary used. More mature content with short stilted sentences is what equalled hard to get into book, for me.
I did enjoy the book. I have read them all, and feel like this closes it out well. I didn't close the book wanting more from these girls and that always shows that things wrapped up nicely. If you are a parent that will be buying this books for your child, I strongly suggest you do as dee, and read it first. There are some very grown up issues in this book, and I it could lead to some great discussions with your YA'er. If you haven't read any of these books, nor has your child, I don't suggest starting here. The first three in the series were by far superior to this, but I am so glad I read Forever, because I needed the chance to say good-bye to my friends, Bee, Carma, Tibby, and Lena.