My Thoughts: Sisterhood Everlasting (Ann Brashares)

Sisterhood Everlasting (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, #5)
Now Tibby, Lena, Carmen, and Bridget have grown up, starting their lives on their own. And though the jeans they shared are long gone, the sisterhood is everlasting.

Despite having jobs and men that they love, each knows that something is missing: the closeness that once sustained them. Carmen is a successful actress in New York, engaged to be married, but misses her friends. Lena finds solace in her art, teaching in Rhode Island, but still thinks of Kostos and the road she didn’t take. Bridget lives with her longtime boyfriend, Eric, in San Francisco, and though a part of her wants to settle down, a bigger part can’t seem to shed her old restlessness.

Then Tibby reaches out to bridge the distance, sending the others plane tickets for a reunion that they all breathlessly await. And indeed, it will change their lives forever—but in ways that none of them could ever have expected.

As moving and life-changing as an encounter with long-lost best friends, Sisterhood Everlasting is a powerful story about growing up, losing your way, and finding the courage to create a new one. (Goodreads Blurb)

Sisterhood Everlasting is the fifth and final book in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. It's been years since I read the fourth one, but remember loving them all. The characters, the friendships, the ups and downs of love and heartbreak. Sisterhood Everlasting was a perfect closing to a much loved series.

If you've read the first 4 books in this series, don't stop there. You MUST finish it. I know I waited too long. This review is mostly just for myself. It's to get my feelings and thoughts out. It's going to be long.

Sisterhood Everlasting begins with reuniting you with the characters you came to know and love in the previous books. Lena, Tibby, Carmen, and Bridget are now on the cusp of turning thirty. The pants that helped center and connect their friendship and adventures were lost long ago. Now they are all struggling with living their own lives separate from each other, each facing their own difficulties with growing up. Their lives are changing, they as people are changing, and their friendships with each other are changing. Were the pants the one and only thing holding them all together?

I immediately fell back into the lives of these 4 friends:

Carmen was the loud, chubby, bold, at times self-centered girl of the group. She is now an actress living in New York with her fiance. She's no longer plus-sized, goes to fancy parties with her executive fiance and is trying to fit into a mold that isn't her.

Tibby, the quirky, weird girl who looks at things and life differently. Described by the author as brutally honest and a quiet observer. She moved quite suddenly to Australia with her boyfriend Brian and purposefully fell out of touch with her 3 friends. But she always has her reasons. And she's always thinking of others.

Bridget, the girl I envy the most in these books. She's the carefree, adventurous, fearless and  sometimes reckless one who is always chasing after something, always searching, but at the same time always running. She's living with Eric, the hottie she met back at soccer camp. Even though life is good, her life is still missing something.

Then there's Lena. She's the character I loved the most, probably because she's the one I could most identify with. Serious, shy, artsy and sensitive. She was always the careful, responsible one. She has never forgotten the boy who stole her heart.

When I started this book, I had in my head that it was going to be like the other books. The pants would magically reappear, the 4 friends would have their ups and downs, but ultimately they would all come back together and it would be like old times, happily ever after the end. If the book had gone the way I was thinking, it wouldn't have been good. The author took this book in a direction that I honestly could never have guessed or seen coming. And I'm so glad she did.

If there's even a remote chance you will ever read this book, I beg you not to read anymore of my review. You should experience this book as I did. Unaware and completely open. (Spoilers to come)

Tibby has basically been MIA. She hasn't been returning Carmen, Lena or Bridget's phone calls or letters. She deterred them from taking a trip out to see her. She's being secretive and aloof. Out of the blue, Carmen, Lena and Bridget each receive a letter and plane ticket to meet Tibby in Greece. The place where so much transpired between the friends. It's a chance for them all to be united again. It's also where everything changes. Tibby drowns. She dies. And she leaves clues to make her three heart-broken friends believe that she knew she was going to die. Lena, Carmen and Bridget are numb and in shock. Instead of leaning on each other for support, they try to deal with things on their own. Guilt. Each of them has to deal with the guilt of losing Tibby and thoughts they could have done more. This was the gut-twisting direction I didn't see coming. But looking back, this is what made the story come together and make it as amazing as it was.

Bridget leaves Eric, runs away, is taking reckless risks. She soon learns she is pregnant. She doesn't believe she's fit to be a mother.
Carmen throws herself into planning her wedding to the man she...loves? At this point, she just wants to get the wedding over with.
Lena, living alone in Providence, she sequesters herself away. She goes back to Greece to her grandparents home, and calls Kostos, the boy who stole her heart (and mine). They have faced constant obstacles that have kept them from being together. Even now.

The letters Tibby left them tells them to do things and go to certain places. Tibby knew each of her friends souls. She wanted to make sure they ended up okay, and if they needed a push in the right direction, she would give it to them, even if she was gone.

Bridget goes to Australia to see Brian, and learns Tibby had a daughter, named Bailey. She didn't kill herself. She had Huntington's disease and was quickly declining. Her plan was to tell Carmen, Lena and Bridget in Greece and bring all her friends together one last time. She went for a swim, not knowing how weak her body really was. And she drowned. She didn't kill herself. This knowledge changes everything.
Soooo much more happens with all of the characters. Calling them characters doesn't feel right. I feel like I know them so well and they seem so real. I just have to say the whole Lena-Kostos romance is my favorite storyline of all the books. They belonged to each other. Their souls called for each other.

Tibby's death ripped Lena, Carmen and Bridget's already fragile friendships apart. They felt they were all lost without her. Even though she was gone, Tibby brought all her best friends back together and mended their hearts, and friendship.

Favorite Quotes:
"Maybe you think you'll be entitled to more happiness later by forgoing all of it now, but it doesn't work that way. Happiness takes as much practice as unhappiness does. It's by living that you live more. By waiting you wait more. Every waiting day makes your life a little less. Every lonely day makes you a little smaller. Every day you put off your life makes you less capable of living it."

Bottom Line:  Funny, sad, heartbreaking, uplifting, real. Sisterhood Everlasting took me on a roller-coaster of emotions. It broke my heart. And then put it back together. And it was perfect. 5/5

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