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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

“Light and romantic," raved The New York Times of the second novel in the  bestselling Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares, author of The Here and Now.

With a bit of last summer’s sand in the pockets, the Traveling Pants and the sisterhood who wears them—Lena, Tibby, Bridget, and Carmen—embark on their second summer together.
 
“Fits like a favorite pair of pants.” —USA Today

“A great summer read.” —The Sacramento Bee

 “As comfortable as an old pair of jeans.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred

Excerpt

PROLOGUE
0nce there were four girls who shared a pair of pants. The girls were all different sizes and shapes, and yet the pants fit each of them.

You may think this is a suburban myth. But I know it's true, because I am one of them-one of the sisters of the Traveling Pants.

We discovered their magic last summer, purely by accident. The four of us were splitting up for the first time in our lives. Carmen had gotten them from a second-hand place without even bothering to try them on. She was going to throw them away, but by chance, Tibby spotted them. First Tibby tried them; then me, Lena; then Bridget; then Carmen.

By the time Carmen pulled them on, we knew something extraordinary was happening. If the same pants fit-and I mean really fit-the four of us, they, aren't ordinary. They don't belong completely to the' world of things you can see and touch. My sister, Effie, claims I don't believe in magic, and maybe I didn't then. But after the first summer of the Traveling Pants, I do.

The Traveling Pants are not only the most beautiful pair of jeans that ever existed, they are kind, comforting, and wise. And also they make you look really good.

We, the members of the Sisterhood, were friends before the Traveling Pants. We've known each other since before we were born. Our mothers were all in the same pregnancy aerobics class, all due in early September. I feel this explains something about us. We all have in common that we got bounced on our fetal heads too much.

We were all born within seventeen days of each other, first me, a little early, in the end of August, and last Carmen, a little late, in the middle of September. You know how people make a big deal about which twin was born three minutes before the other one? Like it matters? Well, we're like that. We draw great significance from the fact that I'm the oldest-the most mature, the most maternal -and Carmen is the baby.

Our mothers started out being close. We had a group play date running at least three days a week until we started kindergarten. They called themselves the Septembers and eventually passed that name down to us. Our mothers would gab in whoever's yard it was, drinking iced tea and eating cherry tomatoes. We would play and play and play and occasionally fight. Honestly, I remember my friends' mothers almost as well as my own from that time.

We four, the daughters, reminisce about it sometimes- we look back on that period as a golden age., Gradually, as we grew, our mothers' friendship disintegrated. Then Bee's mother died. A giant hole was left, and none of them knew how to bridge it. Or maybe they just didn't have the courage.

The word friends doesn't seem to stretch big enough to describe how we feel about each other. We forget where one of us starts and the other one stops. When Tibby sits next to me in the movies, she bangs her heel against my shin during the funny or scary parts. Usually I don't even notice until the bruise blooms the next day. In history class Carmen absently grabs the loose, pinchy skin at my elbow. Bee rests her chin on my shoulder when I'm trying to show her something on the computer, clacking her tee& together when I turn to explain something. We step on, each other's feet a lot. (And, okay, I do have large feet.)

Before the Traveling, Pants we didn't know how to e~, together when we were apart. We didn't realize that we, are bigger and stronger and longer than the time we spend together. We learned that the first summer.

And all year long-, we waited and wondered what the second summer would bring. We learned to drive. We tried to care about our schoolwork and our PSATs. Effie fell in love (several times), and I tried to fall out of it. Brian became a regular fixture at Tibby's house, and she, wanted to talk about Bailey less and less. Carmen and Paul evolved from stepsiblings to friends. We all kept ue nervous, loving eyes on Bee.

While we did our thing, the Pants lived quietly in the top of Carmen's closet. They were summer Pants -that's what we had all agreed on. We had always marked our lives by summers. Besides, with the no-washing rule, we didn't want to overuse them. But not a day of fall, winter, or spring went by when I didn't think about them, curled up in Carmen's closet, safely gathering their magic for when we needed them again.

This summer began differently than the last. Except for Tibby, who'd be going to her film program at a college in Virginia, we thought we'd be staying home. We were all excited to see how the Pants worked when they weren't traveling.

But Bee never met a plan she didn't like to change. So from the start, our summer did not go the way we expected.


From the Hardcover edition.
Ann Brashares

About Ann Brashares

Ann Brashares - The Second Summer of the Sisterhood

Photo © Sigrid Estrada

“I don’t really write with the idea of trying to teach any lessons. I want to tell a story as truthfully and engagingly as I can, and then let the chips fall where they may.”—Ann Brashares

Ann Brashares grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland, with three brothers and attended a Quaker school in the D.C. area called Sidwell Friends. She studied Philosophy at Barnard College, part of Columbia University in New York City. Expecting to continue studying philosophy in graduate school, Ann took a year off after college to work as an editor, hoping to save money for school. Loving her job, she never went to graduate school, and instead, remained in New York City and worked as an editor for many years. Ann made the transition from editor to full-time writer to write her first novel, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ANN BRASHARES ON THE SECOND SUMMER OF THE SISTERHOOD

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, your debut novel, received much critical praise, awards, and adoration from readers of all ages. What are your thoughts on its success and why do you think it resonated so heavily with readers?

Its success has been a wonderful surprise each step of the way. From the outset I tried to keep my expectations very low. I know how hard it is to get a book published let alone have it succeed. I’ve read many excellent books that did not succeed commercially. Here I give credit to the publisher, Random House, and to the booksellers. They supported the book wholeheartedly.

To the extent that it has resonated with readers, I am grateful for it. I sense that they have responded, more than anything else, to the unconditional love and loyalty that the Sisterhood represents.

Has the success changed your writing process and expectations for the The Second Summer of the Sisterhood?

I tried not to let the success change anything, but it kept creeping into my consciousness anyway. I worried that I wouldn’t live up to the hopes of my readers. I worried that I would forget how to write. I worried that I never knew how to write in the first place. I worried a lot and I wrote very little.

When I finally forced myself back to my computer, I worried I had fallen out of touch with my characters. They felt to me like friends with whom I'd been intensely close, but hadn't seen in a long time. It's painful, in a way, to have to ask clunky, anonymous questions of people you used to know in an intimate, hour-by-hour way. Luckily, though, when I started to spend real time with Carmen and Bee and Tibby and Lena, I relaxed. I grew close to them again and enjoyed being with them so much, I forgot all the things I was worrying about.

As for expectations, I still try to keep them in check. But I do allow myself to hope. I hope that readers who liked the first book will like the second one, too.

Did you plan for the girls’ relationships with their mothers to play a stronger role in The Second Summer of the Sisterhood? Does your relationship with your own mother resemble any from the book?

It didn’t start out that way exactly. As I was working out stories for each of the girls, I realized that most of them involved their mothers to some degree. So I just went with it. The mother-daughter bond is about as rich a subject as any I know. And I felt those relationships could give a center of gravity to a book that otherwise ran the risk of going in too many directions at once.

My relationship with my mother doesn’t resemble any of the ones in the book precisely. There are some thematic similarities to Carmen, though, in that my parents were divorced and I had to come to terms with my mom having a romantic life of her own.

As the mother of three young children, do you find that you relate more to the girls or their mothers?

Even though I’m closer to the age of the mothers, I related more to the daughters. I think that’s because I wrote the book from the girls’ points of view. Although I tried really hard to imagine how the mothers would feel, I didn’t actually spend my days thinking their thoughts the way I do when I’ m writing in a character’s point of view.

Also, my daughter is not a teenager yet. When she gets to be a teenager, then I’ll really understand what those mothers go through.

Female friendship remains a central theme in the second book, do you have your own Sisterhood? In your writing, you seem to have a real understanding of the importance of those bonds, how have you come to know that?

I have a few very good old friends from childhood and some more recent friends whom I love dearly. But truthfully, I think the Sisterhood is more fantasy than reality for me. I grew up in a house full of boys (wonderful boys, I should mention), and always dreamed about sisters.

Do you have a sense of where the girls will be “next summer”? How do you see their growth continuing?

Next summer will be the girls’ last before they split up to go to college. That’s going to be a big deal for them. I suspect Tibby is going to fall in love for the first time. I have a feeling Bridget might encounter Eric, the soccer coach, again. I have a few other plans up my sleeve, but I think I better keep them secret.

What do you hope readers will take away from this second book?

I don’t really write with the idea of trying to teach any lessons. I want to tell a story as truthfully and engagingly as I can, and then let the chips fall where they may. But I realize when I get to the end of the story, I care very much that my characters evolve and grow. In spite of their torments and their selfish impulses, I care that they are guided by a spirit of goodness. I want them to set a high standard for compassion and for friendship.

ANN BRASHARES ON THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS

How did you come up with the book’s unique central concept? Why traveling pants?

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
was born in an unusual way. I was working as an editor at the time, chatting in the office with a colleague and friend who told me about a summer when she and some girl friends shared a pair of pants. She told me the pants had sadly been lost in Borneo. My mind was immediately filled with all sorts of wonderful possibilities.

I think pants have unique qualities, especially in a woman’s life. Whatever bodily insecurities we have, we seem to take out on our pants. In high school, my friends would have their skinny pants and their fat pants. I like pants that allow women not to judge their bodies. The Traveling Pants are the kind of pants that always love you. They fit my characters’ bodies in a non-restrictive way.

Describe your favorite pair of pants. What makes them your favorite?

At the moment, my favorite pair of pants are bright red. They are cropped, slightly flared summer pants. Like a good friend, they are flexible, forgiving, and boost my confidence even on really off days. They are low maintenance pants–never requiring dry cleaning or even ironing. The waistline is zippered and definite, so it doesn't have that subtly defeated quality of elastic. And these pants manage to make me feel loved even through major body transitions (like having a baby!).

This story should resonate with young women because sharing clothes is such an integral part of many female friendships. Did you have a clothes-sharing experience that helped to shape the book?

The concept of The Pants is directly related to my experience with my wedding dress. Before I had chosen a wedding dress, I had a picture in my mind of what mine would look like. One day, my mom and I were touring wedding venues in the Washington, DC area where I grew up. Our guide showed us some wedding photographs, and one of them showed a bride wearing a dress just like the one I had imagined. The tour guide invited me to take the picture home, so I did, and I left it in my drawer.

A few months later, the sister of a friend, a young woman named Hope, asked if I had picked my wedding dress. I hadn't. Hope’s recent wedding hadn’t worked out. She wasn't broken-hearted about the groom, but she was broken-hearted about her beautiful, amazing dress not being worn. She asked me if I would consider wearing it at my wedding. I didn't know Hope very well, so I politely declined a few times. Yet she was strangely insistent and later arrived at our friend's apartment with a huge box. Through the clear plastic front I could see that the dress inside was remarkably familiar. It was exactly the same as the dress in the photograph I had put in my drawer. I was ecstatic.

I tried to give the dress back to Hope, after I had worn it in my wedding, but she didn't want it.

So I decided, in the spirit of her generosity, that it was a fortuitous, serendipitous kind of dress, and needed to be shared some more. Since then, it has been worn beautifully by my older brother's wife, my middle brother's wife, and my lifelong best friend. These are probably the three women I am closest to in my life–my own sisterhood. I'm hoping it will be worn again. In fact, I am imagining that instead of the next bride throwing the bouquet at the end of the wedding, she can ball up my wedding dress and throw that.

Much of the novel takes place in Baja and Greece. Did travel play an influential role in your childhood or teenage years?

I love to travel and have taken a lot of trips, but have never actually been to either Baja or Greece. I did a lot of reading and imagining for those stories. They existed more in my imagination than any place else. I love islands. I loved that Oia, the town where Lena’s grandparents lived, was stuck in time and had this geological drama in the background.

I grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland, which was very Plain Jane. When I was a kid, I had a scrapbook that I used to write letters in from places I wished I could have gone. I would imagine being in Argentina and then write about all the incredible things I was seeing there. This book is almost like a continuation of those imaginary years.

How old were you when you first fell in love? Who was he? Where were you?

I first fell in love when I was 14 or 15, but it wasn’t immediate falling in love, it was a slow… slow fall. The person I fell in love with immediately was my husband. He is an artist and we met during my freshman year at Barnard. He sat across from me and drew a picture of me in the Columbia University Philosophy Reading Room. I hadn’t even noticed him, but a friend of mine saw what he was doing and told me. As soon as I went out with him, that was it. It was the first time I felt like I loved someone instantly. We’ve been together ever since.

You’ve written about four very different girls. Are the characters in this book based on people you know or wish you had known?

Oddly enough, they aren’t. They are composites of different people. I based Lena's story on the Greek myth of Artemis, the proud, boy-hating goddess of the hunt who, when spotted bathing by a suitor, turns the poor guy into a stag. I wanted my Lena to be less pleased with herself, though, and for her suitor to be more formidable. The story of Tibby and Bailey I based on the great, great movie It's a Wonderful Life. Bailey started out more like an angel than a person. I imagined her as an angel who revealed the cynical little prejudices and presumptions that I remember finding so seductive when I was fifteen. Carmen was the girl who said things I could never say and Bridget was the girl who did things I would never do.

Who are you most like: Carmen, Tibby, Bridget or Lena?

There’s a little bit of me in each of them. I would say I have more in common with Lena and Carmen than the other two. I have some life experience in common with Carmen, but we are considerably different too. I am a little like Carmen in that I sometimes feel as if I lose myself when I'm out of context. Also, I have dealt with issues of divorce and step families. For the protection of the innocent, though, I must say that my own family circumstances were completely different than hers. As for Lena, I guess I know what it is to feel awkward and inward sometimes, and romantically, to feel like a big chicken. Sometimes the girls provided me with an escape or a fantasy.

Why did you choose Carmen to set up the story?

Carmen struck me as the person who was most conscious–who recognized the importance of the girls’ friendship. She didn’t just live it, she knew it inside and out. I think she’s the most introspective of the four.

What do you think are the most important aspects of female relationships?

Loyalty and love. And I mean the kind of love that parents have–unconditional. So often, relationships become competitive or marked by pettiness or envy. For relationships to really transcend the negative stuff in life, they need to be without judgement. I wanted to create a story about a rare bunch of girls who didn't succumb to malice or jealousy and, instead, learned to grow alongside each other and in support of each other. I like the idea in this book, particularly for Carmen, that they are just going to love each other whole-heartedly, no matter what.

Do you think those things change as people get older?

I think that relationships do change over time. And that’s another reason why Carmen has the role she does. She has an awareness that the relationship is fragile and that so many other priorities, like boyfriends or distance, can get in the way. People’s lives inevitably go in different directions as they get older, when they stop having so much in common. They have to work not to let it go.

What do you hope teens will take away from reading The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants?

Honestly, I mostly hope they'll enjoy it and take pleasure away. I want it to be the kind of book that will stick with them a bit, the way books I liked when I was that age stuck with me. If there's a message, I guess it's just this: love yourself and your friends unconditionally.
Awards

Awards

NOMINEE 2005 Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award
About the Book|Discussion Questions

About the Guide

With a bit of last summer’s sand in the pockets, the Traveling Pants and the Sisterhood that wears them embark on their 16th summer.
Bridget: Impulsively sets off for Alabama, wanting to both confront her demons about her family and avoid them all at once.
Lena: Spends a blissful week with Kostos, making the unexplainable silence that follows his visit even more painful.
Carmen: Is concerned that her mother is making a fool of herself over a man. When she discovers that her mother borrowed the Pants to wear on a date, she’s certain of it.
Tibby: Not about to spend another summer working at Wallman’s, she takes a film course only to find it’s what happens off-camera that teaches her the most.

Discussion Guides

1. The novel opens with a first-person narrative by Lena. Why do you think the author selected this character to frame the story? If you could change it, would you select another character, and if so, what would he or she say?

2. Self-destructive and hurting, Bridget impulsively decides to journey to Alabama and conceal her identity from her estranged grandmother. “She didn’t look like Bee Vreeland. Who said she had to be her?” (p. 21). Have you ever wished you could be someone else? How does posing as Gilda help Bridget learn to be comfortable in her own skin?

3. Each of the girls is embarrassed by her mother (or mother figure)–Carmen by Christina’s new romance, Lena by Ari’s Greekness, Tibby by Alice’s Mozart-playing cell phone and diaper-wipe-trailing shoes, and Bridget by Greta’s life, “so small, and so simple, and so completely unremarkable” (p. 280). In turn, each girl does something to embarrass her mother, with behavior that is often cruel. How could the girls have handled their situations differently? By humiliating their mothers, what do the girls of the Sisterhood learn about themselves?

4. Tibby gets caught up in trying to appear cool and sophisticated in front of Alex and Maura. “She wondered. Had she not brought Brian because she was worried about how he would seem to Alex and Maura? Or was it because she worried about how she, Tibby, would seem to Brian?” (p. 105). Do people judge you by the company you keep? Sometimes people rebuff the ones they love . . . why do you think Tibby pushes Brian away? If you were Brian, would you give up on Tibby? Why or why not?

5. In The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Tibby’s friend Bailey is the only one outside the Sisterhood who wears the Pants. In The Second Summer of the Sisterhood, Christina has that role. Carmen notes (p. 156), “The sick thing was, Christina looked beautiful in the Pants, slender and young. They fit Christina. They loved her and believed in her just as they’d loved Carmen last summer, when Carmen had been worthy of them. This summer they eluded Carmen. Instead, they chose her mother.” And on Bridget’s fifth day in Alabama, the Traveling Pants arrive–and they don’t fit her anymore. What is the emotional impact of these incidents on Carmen and Bridget? Is there a larger issue at play?

6. Epigraphs (short quotations) from a variety of sources–song lyrics, remarks by real-life personalities, fictitious sayings by the novel’s characters–are used to separate sections of the book. Which one is your favorite, and why?

7. Lena loves being in Carmen’s kitchen. “It felt safe and contained” (p. 81), and the food is comforting as well. Do you have a favorite place that makes you feel protected and secure? How do people make a place special?

8. Does Bridget find what she’s looking for in Alabama? How does spending time with Greta teach her about Marly? How is Bridget changed by this experience?

9. Ari tells Lena intimate details of her love affair. Do you think Lena is prepared for such information? Is it better for parents to shield their children from some of their own experiences–or do you think sharing them can help prevent heartache? On page 345, the narrator writes, “Lena was starting to need to go back to being the daughter again.” Have you ever been the recipient of knowledge that you didn’t feel equipped to handle?

10. Which of the girls would you most like to be? Which girl would make the best friend for you? Which mother–Christina, Ari, Alice, or Greta–would you most like to have?

11. Is Kostos a man of honor or a coward? How do you view his behavior? Lena broke up with Kostos–is she justified in thinking, “But that didn’t mean you were allowed to stop loving me” (p. 193)?

12. Carmen and Lena remain at home for most of the novel. Do you think the girls’ friendship would be stronger if all four girls were together? Or do you believe Lena, who tells us in the prologue (p. 4), “We didn’t realize that we are bigger and stronger and longer than the time we spend together”?

13. At the end of the novel, the remaining original Septembers–Alice, Ari, and Christina–are reunited. What does this teach the girls of the Sisterhood? Think about the women in your own life–mothers, grandmothers, aunts. Can you imagine their having a life before you?


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