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The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

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The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is a best selling novel written in 2001 by Ann Brashares. The book follows the adventures of four best friends--Lena Kaligaris, Tibby Rollins, Bridget Vreeland, and Carmen Lowell, who are spending their first summer apart. When a magical pair of jeans comes into their lives, their summer turns upside down. The book was adapted into a film of the same name in 2005. Three sequels to the book have been published, The Second Summer of the Sisterhood; Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood; and Forever in Blue: The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood.

Plot summaryEdit

In the first novel in the series, it is established that four high school students, Lena Kaligaris, Tibby Rollins, Bridget Vreeland, and Carmen Lowell, are such close friends that they are virtually sisters. They find a pair of thrift store jeans that fit all four girls beautifully, even though the girls are all different sizes and shapes. To keep in touch with each other during their summer vacation, they pass the pants along from one girl to another. First, the pants go with Lena, who is spending the summer in Greece with her grandparents. Lena then sends the pants to Tibby, who is stuck at home. Next, Tibby sends them to Carmen, who has gone to visit her divorced father in South Carolina. Carmen sends them to Bridget, who is at a soccer camp in Baja California, Mexico. Then, the pants go back in reverse order--Bridget to Carmen to Tibby to Lena. When each girl wears the Traveling Pants, she gains insight into her life and is emboldened to change it.

CharactersEdit

The SisterhoodEdit

  • Lena "Lenny" Kaligaris, is a beautiful and artistic girl of Greek heritage. She has a younger sister, Effie. Brashares based Lena on the Greek myth of Artemis, the proud, boy-hating goddess of the hunt who, when spotted bathing by a suitor, turned the young man into a stag.[1] She is very shy and withdrawn, due to the fact that she is nearly always judged on her appearance. When she goes to Santorini, Greece, to visit her grandparents for the first time, she meets Kostos, a young family enemy. At first, she dislikes him, convinced that he is only paying attention to her because of her beauty. Later on, however, she falls in love with him, and he with her.
  • Tabitha Anastasia "Tibby" Tomko-Rollins is the rebellious daughter of two former radicals. She is extremely interested in filmmaking. Tibby lives with her parents and her much younger siblings, Nicky and Katherine. She feels misplaced in her surroundings, and has developed a very cynical outlook on life, feeling that she belongs in her parents' "old" life, while they are busy creating a new life with their younger children. During the summer, she gets a job at a local supermarket and sets out to make a film about losers (her own genre, which she calls the "suckumentary"). At her job, she meets twelve-year-old Bailey Graffman, who is dying from leukemia. Tibby initially wants nothing to do with Bailey, but soon finds that Bailey turns her world upside down. Bailey teaches Tibby that everyone has a little "loser" in them, and how to find the sun behind the clouds, an outlook that is totally unfamiliar to sarcastic Tibby.
  • Bridget "Bee" Vreeland is the willful, energetic, athletic soccer star who is described as "single minded to the point of recklessness." Bridget has a twin brother, Perry. She is the daughter of a European history professor and a Southern belle who committed suicide when Bridget was twelve. Bridget still hasn't recovered from the trauma, which triggers her sometimes self-destructive behavior. During the summer, she attends a soccer camp in Baja California, Mexico. She becomes obsessed with a handsome, young soccer coach named Eric. Though flings between coaches and campers are forbidden, throughout the summer she relentlessly keeps seeking him out, despite his reluctance, and eventually, they get together. She learns, however, that thinking you want something and actually wanting it when you get it aren't necessarily the same thing.
  • Carmen Lucille "Carma" Lowell, whom her friends sometimes call Carmabelle (her IM name), is a sensitive, caring and dramatic half-Puerto Rican with an explosive temper. It was she who initially found the Traveling Pants. Of the four Sisters, she is the most insistent on keeping them together. Her parents are divorced, and she lives with her mother, Christina. She goes to spend the summer with her father in South Carolina, looking forward to spending quality time with him and doing father-daughter things. Her hopes are shattered when she finds out that not only has her father moved in with a woman, but they are planning to be married and have the wedding while she is there. Her future stepmother is bringing two teenaged children of her own into the marriage. Carmen doesn't seem to fit in at all, which causes her to crumble and create havoc. She runs away and back to her mother, only to discover that running away from problems isn't always the best decision, especially when it comes to family.

In Santorini, GreeceEdit

  • Valia and Bapi Kaligaris are Lena and Effie's grandparents. Lena's grandmother is talkative and spirited, like Effie, while Bapi is quiet and introspective like Lena.
  • Kostos Dounas lives with his grandparents in Santorini. He falls in love with Lena and she returns the affection.

In Bethesda, MDEdit

  • Bailey Graffman is a twelve-year-old girl who adores Tibby and assists her on her documentary film. She has leukemia, and dies from it near the end of the book.
  • Brian McBrian is a video game aficionado who spends hours every day playing Dragon Master at 7-Eleven. He is the first person interviewed for Tibby's documentary and later becomes a close friend to Tibby and Bailey.
  • Duncan Howe is the assistant manager at Wallmans where Tibby works. Duncan is labeled by Tibby as a loser and was one of the stars of her 'suckumentary'.
  • Margaret is a worker at the Pavilion Theater who has seen over 10,000 movies and can recite whole scenes from them. She has worked at the same theater for over thirty years and is very dedicated to her work. Although she looks young, she is at least forty-five years old. She was one of the people interviewed for Tibby's 'suckumentary'.

Family members of the SisterhoodEdit

  • Georgos "George" Kaligaris is Lena's strict Greek father. Although his parents owned a restaurant in Greece, he is a lawyer. He doesn't approve of Lena's interest in art, believing it to be an impractical career choice and would prefer if she went to law school like him.
  • Ariadne "Ari" Kaligaris is Lena's mother. She is a social worker. She is often caught between her husband's and daughter's squabbles. Her favorite clothing is usually beige and plain.
  • Effie Kaligaris is Lena's fourteen-year-old sister. Although not as beautiful as her sister, she is outgoing and spirited, and she has more experience with boys than Lena.
  • Franz Vreeland is Bridget's Dutch father, a European history teacher at a private high school. He isn't very close to Bridget.
  • Marlene "Marly" Randolph Vreeland is Bridget's late mother. When she died, she left a hole in the first group of "Septembers," the mothers of the Sisterhood, so named because they were all due to give birth in September. Marly's death made it hard for the remaining mothers to bridge the gap since.
  • Perry Vreeland is Bridget's twin brother who shared a childhood with the Sisterhood, but grew up to be a reclusive teenager. He was named for Marly's brother, Pervis Randolph. He spends most of his time in his room on his computer.
  • Christina "Tina" Lowell is Carmen's mother. She is Puerto Rican and works as a secretary for a law firm. She cares deeply for her daughter but, in Carmen's opinion, tries a little too hard sometimes.
  • Mr. Rollins is Tibby's dad. He is a lawyer who used to work as a public defender. He is not a major character in the book.
  • Alice Tomko Rollins is Tibby's mother, who was a hippie and a sculptor while Tibby was young. Currently, she works in real estate.
  • Nicky and Katherine Rollins are Tibby's younger siblings. In the first book, Nicky is two and Katherine is one.

In South CarolinaEdit

  • Albert "Al" Lowell is Carmen's father. When Carmen arrives for a visit, he surprises her with the news that he is engaged to Lydia.
  • Lydia Rodman is Al's fiancée. Lydia is a perfectionist who wants everything orderly, which does not appeal to Carmen. She has two children from her previous marriage, Paul and Krista.
  • Paul Rodman is two years older than Carmen and has an alcoholic father, whom he drives to to visit every month. He attends the University of Pennsylvania, his father's alma mater. Carmen refers to him as being serious, mature, and responsible. Paul almost never speaks.
  • Krista Rodman is Carmen's age. She and Carmen do not get along when they first meet because Carmen perceives her as being unintelligent and perfect.
  • Kelly Marquette is Paul's girlfriend, whom Carmen dubs "Skeletor." She seems to regard Carmen with contempt. She and Paul break up near the end of the book.

In Baja CaliforniaEdit

  • Eric Richman is a college sophomore (at Columbia University) and coach at Bridget's soccer camp. Bridget falls in love with him, and although he reciprocates her feelings, he avoids her at first because he feels that it would be wrong for him to be with her.

Disputed AuthorshipEdit

Ann Brashares does not claim to have come up with the idea behind the Travelling Pants series. In an interview with Powell’s, Brashares states that “[The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants] 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… We talked about it a little more, and with some of her ideas and her blessing I went off and developed it into an outline, got characters, and got Random House on board.”[2]

However, this version of the story is disputed. According to some sources,[3][4]Anderson had approached the Publishing Imprint for which she worked, Alloy, with the idea, characters, and outline, thinking that if it were accepted, she would write the novel. In the end, Anderson’s idea was turned down. Brashares, the co-president of Alloy at the time, then took the story and wrote the novel herself, pitching it to Random House, which picked it up and turned it into a series, the rest of which was written by Brashares.

As stated above, Brashares claims that Jodi Anderson is "a dear friend" and praised Anderson's new book, Peaches, for which she was quoted on the cover.[5] Anderson no longer works for Alloy and has not made a public statement on the subject.

ReferencesEdit

  1. RandomHouse.com interview
  2. Powell's.com: Ann Brashares Embarks Into Fiction. David Weich, 7 September 2001. Archive accessed 13 June 2007.
  3. Avast! Feminist Conspiracy!: Dirty Chick-Lit Secret Exposed in Harvard Plagiarism Scandal. Laylalola, 12 May 2006.
  4. Gawker.com: Ann Brashares Flaunts Her Ill-Gotten Gains. Emily, 4 January 2007.
  5. Amazon.com: Peaches Product Information
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