Review: Sisterhood Everlasting, by Ann Brashares

~ By Melina Kantor

So there I was gathering links for one of our “This Week in Chick Lit” posts when an excellent piece of news appeared on my computer screen. Ann Brashares had a new book coming out! The Sisterhood was back!

I scanned the screen for information on the release date. June 14th. I’d only have to wait a few days, but I knew it was going to feel like an eternity.

I was dying to know what had come of Bea, Lena, Carmen and Tibby over the past ten years, especially since the last time I’d seen them, they’d lost the pair of pants that bonded them and magically fit them all.

Say what you will about the Traveling Pants series, but I’ll admit to being a complete and total fan. I discovered the books as an adult, as a result, I confess, of the movie. Even in movie form, the personalities of the characters shined through, and I couldn’t help but be impressed. I was at Barnes and Noble buying a copy of the book minutes after the movie ended.

Somehow, I identified with all four girls – especially Lena. You see, Lena and I are both Greek, and like Lena, I spent my high school summers in a small Greek village on the water. Somehow, even without have ever visited Greece, Ann Brashares’ description of Lena’s experience was amazingly accurate. (Although I did choose to overlook the fact that if Lena’s grandfather were real, he’d probably eat yoghurt with honey, and not Rice Krispies, for breakfast.)

I’ve since read or listened to each of the books at least twice. So you can imagine why I was happy dancing in my desk chair when I found out about Sisterhood Everlasting.

To sweeten the deal, it seemed the girls were headed back to Greece for a reunion.

But then I saw something in an interview with Ann Brashares that gave me chills. She was describing what it felt like to kill off a character.


Suddenly, I wasn’t so sure I even wanted to read the book.

But how could I NOT read it? I’d come so far with these four girls.

So, on June 14, right on schedule, I downloaded the audio version of the book, which was, coincidentally right on time for my own trip to Greece.

At the beginning of the story, I felt an incredible sense of comfort at being back with the girls. After ten years, they remained true to their characters yet had changed just enough (Carmen’s eyebrows are “a little thinner” and her jeans are “a little tighter”) to show the passage of time.

I was also excited to continue the love stories between Tibby and Brian, Bea and Eric, and (frustrating as their relationship may be) Lena and Kostas.

But Ann Brashares wastes no time. Tragedy strikes from almost the beginning, making the story first and foremost about grief.

I can’t say I agree in any way with the dramatic choice Ann Brashares made, but I can’t fault her for it either. In fact, it’s pretty impressive that even though one of the girls is dead, her character remains true and present in the book.

I do believe that an author knows what’s best for her story. Jennifer Weiner made a similarly controversial choice in Certain Girls, and she’s standing by it.

On the other hand, I also believe an author has to take her readers and their expectations and emotions into consideration.

When I first heard about the book, I pictured myself listening to it while relaxing on a Greek beach. Instead, I listened to it while sitting on my bed in the hotel, feeling drained. Was I cheated?

I’m not sure. . .

What do you think? Have you ever chosen to kill off a character? Have you ever grieved the death of a fictional person?

One last question: Sisterhood Everlasting could easily be considered chick lit. What do you think? Does tragedy have a place in chick lit?

Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

Melina writes contemporary women’s fiction with a pinch of oregano and a dash of chutzpah. By day, she is an elementary school computer teacher. You can visit her at

8 thoughts on “Review: Sisterhood Everlasting, by Ann Brashares”

  1. I read the book a few months ago having no idea about the death. I was shocked when it happened and completely devastated like I was one of the four. Although I spent a few too many nights reading late and going to work with puffy eyes, I really liked the book. I have always felt a connection with the girls and the truth us, life gets difficult and you need to learn how to deal and see the beauty. And it’s a reminder to stay in touch with your friends no matter where you are. I loved the book and I hope they make a movie.

  2. I grieved over Tibby as if I had lost a best friend. I don’t think I got through more than half of the book without crying. I felt so lost and drained by the time I was two thirds of the way through, I had to finish it, because I knew it just had to get better. I was satisfied with the ending, but I think I would have much rather had a full on reunion with all of them, and was shocked when I read about Tibby’s untimely (and in my opinion, unfair) demise.

  3. I only found out about the 5th book last week and pretty much deafened my boyfriend in the car with excitement that there was another book! Last night I settled down to read it and managed to read to just after the death when the others start to return home. I was devastated and have never had such a hard time wondering whether to carry on with the book. I was shocked at my reaction, but have equated it to the fact that I always compared my own friendships to these 4, being in a group of 4 strongly knitted girls (now all 25+!), it was only natural to do this. Although currently there are new problems within the group and a distance growing this is having a profound impact on me, so I can’t believe the timing of reading this book. I partially blame this timing for my reaction to the book as I was expecting some escapism in to my 4 favourite characters lives and share their good times. Having no idea how the book continues or ends, I am hoping it cheers up, but also I believe it shows true talent to have readers so connected to characters that it affects someone in the way it has done to the readers. I can’t help being a little disappointed that my read isn’t going to be stress free!

  4. I was surprised when Ann Brashares chose to kill off a character, and at first a bit disappointed, and more than a bit sad. I loved all four of the girls so much, and I wanted to explore all of their stories. However, I shortly came to terms with it, and although I certainly grieved over the loss of the character, I think Ann Brashares definitely made the right decision. Carmen, Lena, Tibby and Bridget have already dealt with boy drama, and friendship drama, and although it’s all good, I was wondering how a 5th book would manage to continue to make it interesting. It changed the tone of the book, yes, but for the better. It’s sad, yes, but sad isn’t always bad, and it changed the girls forever. And even though the character is killed off, it’s not like she’s gone completely from the book. Quite the contrary, she manages to shape the girls’ lives from beyond the grave, and it turns out so well. Tragedy is a part of life, and I think Ann Brashares did the right thing by taking a risk and killing off a main character. It takes guts, and it might not always work, but this time it did.

  5. Lucy,

    Thanks for your comment and coming to the blog! 🙂

    I was so excited for the book too, and didn’t expect it to be so hard.

    Without giving anything away, I’ll tell you that it does have a very sweet ending. And that includes a touching tribute to Bailey.

    So it’s worth finishing.

    Thanks again for stopping by!


  6. I felt so absolutely connected to these girls from when I first started reading the novels, and needless to say, completely devastated at the death of my beloved characters. I am 18 years old, and I live in Australia. I happened to come across Sisterhood Everlasting in a book store on Monday and bought it in a minute. I have been sitting on my back deck all day reading this novel, and I was absolutely devastated when Ann killed off a character. I was so excited to read it, knowing they were returning to Greece, and today is a beautiful day (however, knowing Tibby had moved to Australia, and living in Australia, I had the feeling this connection meant something tragic. No idea why…)

    The death in this novel certainly rivalled my sadness over Bailey’s death in the first novel, so yes, I have certainly grieved over a fictional character’s death: multiple times. Though, as I consider myself a writer as well, I do agree with the idea that the author knows what is best for their novel. I am currently playing with the idea of my own novel, which focuses around the death of a main character.

    This is mind, I am still only halfway through the novel, and I still hope it to be untrue. I really wish Brashares hadn’t killed off a character.

  7. Have you ever grieved the death of a fictional person?–This isn’t a book character, but in the movie Serenity, which was based on the the short-lived TV series Firefly, Joss Whedon killed off Wash, one of the main characters. I adored the character, and I was just sick over it; it stayed with me for days. I still have a hard time watching the scene in the movie. Movie or book, though, I get invested in fictional characters, so had I ever read the Sisterhood books, I’d probably be having a hard time with that, too.

    One last question: Sisterhood Everlasting could easily be considered chick lit. What do you think? Does tragedy have a place in chick lit?–Personally, it seems to me that chick lit has grown up over the past few years, so it doesn’t seem wrong to me, whereas five years ago it might have. To me, I could see it being handled the way they handled Marshall’s dad’s death on the sitcom How I Met Your Mother; it’s still a comedy, but it takes the occasional detour into the realities of life and balances them out with humor. I don’t want women’s fiction-level angst in my chick lit, but I don’t mind the occasional detour into real-life scenarios, as long as there’s a happy ending to look forward to.

  8. I’m so glad you wrote about this book! But I’m very upset she killed someone off. I expect tragedy when I read Jodi Piccoult but not when I read Brashares or Weiner.

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