The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
A book review for parents
This first drama, romance book in the "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" series by Ann Brashares is published by Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children's Books.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is written for kids ages 12 and up. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Four close friends, separated during the summer before their 16th birthdays, use letters and a pair of jeans passed from girl to girl to keep their friendship alive. Lena visits her grandparents in Greece. Bridget attends a soccer camp. Carmen attempts to cope with her father's impending remarriage. Tibby develops a friendship with a younger girl who has leukemia.
Before meals, Carmen's father — who is living with his fiancée and her teenage children — joins hands with them and says grace. The father and fiancée are married later in a Christian church. God is present through cultural or ceremonial events (holiday, grace before meals, weddings, baptisms), except in Carmen's life where He does not appear to be present. Carmen apologizes to God when she takes His name in vain. However, she refuses to pray when she's miserable and ashamed because she doesn't want God to think of her as the girl who only prays when she wants something. The Lord's name is taken in vain over 25 times.
The girls' parents are mostly absent, ineffectual or the source of the problem. In this teen world, friends provide the needed support and guidance. Serious consequences or discipline for misbehavior are not enforced. The girls come and go with little parental supervision and sometimes without parental knowledge.
Other Belief Systems
Profanity, a few coarse references to body parts and a crude joke. No violence.
The kissing scenes are intense and involve body contact. Kissing is viewed merely as a pleasant pastime. Talked about, but not detailed — Lena's 14-year-old sister, Effie, spends a lot of her free time kissing a young Greek. Nudity (skinny dipping) is included, and there is also a sex scene between 15-year-old Bridget and the college-aged coach she seduces at her soccer camp. The description of the event is not explicit, and the text fast-forwards to scenes of the girl's sadness and bewilderment. While those scenes could serve to warn teens, earlier scenes, filled with vivid descriptions of Bridget's powerful feelings and provocative actions read like a "how-to seduce a male" manual. While there is regret over losing her virginity, it's only because she's too young, and the girl says her sexual misstep is "fixed" when her friend shows up at the camp to support her.
2002 ALA Best Books for Young Adults, Regional awards in Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, Pacific Northwest Readers Choice, Arizona, and Colorado from 2002 to 2004
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- Breaking and entering a gym occurs twice — although stealing is not involved.
- Lying, not correcting serious misunderstandings, underage drinking, emotional wounds of teen sex and risky behavior — mixing drinking and kissing, going places alone late at night, swimming in the ocean alone, sleeping alone at night on the beach.
Note: Producers often use a book as a springboard for a movie idea or to earn a specific rating. Because of this, a movie may differ from the novel. To better understand how this book and movie differ, compare the book review with Plugged In's movie review.
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.