27 June 2013

Sisterhood Everlasting – Ann Brashares

In ‘Sisterhood Everlasting’ the girls seemed generally lost. At the end of ‘Forever in Blue’ I felt that Ann Brashares had tied up most of her loose ends pretty neatly. Bee and Tibby were both experiencing their happily ever afters, however little I felt their actions deserved it. Carmen had discovered her true desire in life and her ability to act on it. And Lena, my most favourite Lena, had discovered an inner strength to be her own person.
Sisterhood Everlasting’ is set 10 years on and so much has changed. Carmen is living her dream, but her dream has turned stale, and to be honest this was one of the few parts of the book that I actually bought. It’s easy to see Carmen getting so swept up in the world of Celebrities, which she’d always admired at a distance, that she lost contact with her friends, and herself, in the process.

 I liked her ‘redemption’ it was cleverly done, but I’m not sure how realistic a two day train journey without any stops is. Having never travelled in a country as large as the US I’ll let it slide and ignore the fact that most train journeys I take have stops every 5 minutes, maybe one day I’ll take that journey for myself.  It amused me to see her all too obvious addiction to technology, as she suffered withdrawal symptoms, and was glad to see her return to her former self by the end of the book.

Lena was the reverse. Rather than move forwards in the 10 year gap it’s almost as though she chose to isolate herself and internally regress. She dwells on Kostos almost constantly, despite the fact that she’d received closure in the previous book. It’s altogether unsurprising to find them reconciled by the end, and while it’s something I wanted, I can’t help but feel that they left it too long and had too large a gap to bridge. None the less they seemed happy and that satisfied me.

Bee meanwhile had quite simply paused. She had remained in the same state of inertia for the whole 10 years. In the words of Newton ‘an object in a state of uniform motion will remain in that same state of motion until an external force is applied’. In the case of Bee this external force was the events in Greece at the start of the book which propelled her into a journey of self-discovery.

I was not happy with Bee’s story. I didn’t like that she pushed Eric away, although I get where that came from. I didn’t like that she contemplated an abortion, it seemed absurdly out of character, I’m not saying no character ever should, but it just wasn’t the sort of thing that Bee would do in my opinion. But most of all I didn’t like how easily Eric took her back. She’d been gone for six months! She’d taken off without so much as a goodbye and hadn’t once contacted him. In fact she’d gone out of her way to make herself un-contactable. I know  that no matter how much I loved someone if they did that to me I’d be furious, and they wouldn’t get off as lightly as she did, there would be yelling and tears, the whole shebang, they certainly wouldn’t be able to crook their little finger and have me come running. I get that he was relieved she was safe, but it was pretty much a parody of the lost son parable.

And finally Tibby. I cried so many tears over Tibby’s story. I’m still not sure I understand how she could have a two year old daughter and not have mentioned her to her parents. I’m glad she called her Bailey, it just made sense.

And yet as the invisible driving force of the group I’m not sure why it was Tibby who had to go. Her and Brian have already suffered so much that they deserved for their happiness to just go on. I didn’t like the way that Brashares wrote her death. The way that right until the end she tried to convince you of suicide. Tibby was much too strong for that, it didn’t make sense.

I did like Brian’s reaction to her death.  The way that he wouldn’t, and perhaps couldn’t, open up to Bee for a long time. I liked the fact that he resented her, it seemed realistic, and I’m glad of it. One thing which did strike me as odd was that he mentioned that it was Tibby who’d wanted Children and that he didn’t know how to do this. He’d been caring for her younger siblings since they first met, and after the great pregnancy scare of book 4, it was he who was convinced they could make it work, her who’d pushed him away.

This book was worth reading, but the characters had often changed in ways I wouldn’t have suspected and didn’t overly like.

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