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June 2023

Forever in Blue: The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood (Sisterhood of Traveling Pants, Book 4)In The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, we are introduced to four friends: Lena, Carmen, Bridget and Tibby.  The girls have been friends since birth, and are drawn even closer together with the discovery of a magical pair of jeans.  The jeans fit anyone who wears them, and seem to also bring good luck to the wearer.  The girls use the pants as a link when they can’t be together to support each other in person.

In Brashares’ fourth (and final?) book about the four friends, the girls have just finished their freshman year at college,and are off on another summer of adventure.  Bridget is on archaeology dig in Turkey, Tibby is spending the summer writing her screenplay, Carmen stumbles into acting, and Lena is chasing her dream of becoming an artist.

I’ve always loved series about groups of best friends (The Babysitters’ Club anyone?).  Brashares’ series started out fabulously.  She is a talented writer, and she managed to write about four best girlfriends in a way that made it seem possible and even fun!  (If you are a girl and have ever tried to be friends equally with three other girls in high school, you know this is no easy feat!)

But I really struggled with her last book.  It wasn’t the writing so much, although she did get a little too sentimental.  My big problem was the amount of sex three of the four girls were having, with no negative consequences to speak of.  This series is meant to appeal to middle school girls and up.  The first two books (in my memory) are fairly clean, and will easily draw young girls in.  But in this last book, sex is just flashed around as something to: do when you’re drunk, do when you’re lonely, do in spite of your parents’ wishes, do in your parent’s house, do without thinking about it, and do with one person when you really want to do it with someone else.  And (with the exception of one pregnancy scare) there are no consequences.  No babies, no ruined relationships, no diseases, no lasting heartaches, and no regrets.  Brashares has created four strong female characters in Lena, Carmen, Bridget and Tibby.  Instead of sending them off into the world as independent, moral, decisive women, she has cheapened them into girls who have sex for all the wrong reasons, and then don’t even realize that anything is wrong.  I think she’s sending a terrible message to the many girls who are reading her books and identifying with her characters.

The Last Summer (of You and Me)I could not have been more disappointed in this book.  I was so looking forward to Brashares’ first novel for adults.  (Her previous young adult series, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is fabulous.)  This book was a bit better than Danielle Steel, but not much.  Brashares used the absolutely worst romantic plot device ever:  Two lovers are kept apart because they won’t just sit down and have a 5 minute chat about a problem.  Instead, there are all sorts of contrived reasons for keeping them from talking about their relatively small issues that last the entire book.  I hate reading these types of books.  I skimmed the last half because I also hate starting books and not finishing them.  I would recommend to you that you just don’t start this one.