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Ann Brashares: Sisterhood Everlasting

“The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” author Ann Brashares is back with more sisterhood. She joins us to talk about her fifth installment in the series.

Author Ann Brashares stops by On Point to chat about her new book. (Will Montague/Flikr)

Author Ann Brashares stops by On Point to chat about her new book. (Will Montague/Flikr)

“The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” grabbed a generation of girls and taught them about friendship. And boyfriends and girlfriends and “tween” life and loyalty.

The book was a huge bestseller. It was a hit at the movies. It came along just as American girls were standing up in test scores and college admissions and ambition –- and still asking the oldest questions about life and love and friends.

Author Ann Brashares is back with the girls as nearly 30-year-old women now.

And she’s with us.

This hour On Point: Traveling Pants author Ann Brashares and “Sisterhood Everlasting.”

- Tom Ashbrook

Ann Brashares, author of Sisterhood Everlasting, in the studio with Tom Ashbrook. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Ann Brashares, author of Sisterhood Everlasting, in the studio with Tom Ashbrook. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Guest:

Ann Brashares, the New York Times bestselling author of “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” “The Second Summer of the Sisterhood,” “Girls in Pants” and “Forever in Blue.” Her latest book, “Sisterhood Everlasting,” is the fifth installment in the series.

Later in the show, we’ll hear portions of a commencement speech by Conan O’Brien.

Excerpt:

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

Prologue:

Once upon a time there were four pregnant women who met in an aerobics gym. I’m not joking; that’s how this story begins. These large, fit, sweatband-sporting women bore four daughters, all born in and around the month of September. These girls started out as babies together and grew to be girls and then women.

A sisterhood, if you will.

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares (Random House)

As I look back on them—on us—I realize that though we aren’t related by blood, we are like four siblings. The Septembers, as we called ourselves, are governed by the laws of birth order, even though we are all basically the same age.

Lena is the oldest. She is responsible, rule-abiding, selfless when¬ever required, steady as a metronome, and not always a thrill a minute, to tell you the truth. She knows how to take care of you. She knows how to be an adult, and she knows how to be serious. She doesn’t always know how not to be serious.

I admit that I, Carmen, am a classic youngest child—compounded by the fact that I grew up as an only child. There’s no end to my self¬centeredness when I get going. I can be bratty and tempestuous, but I am loyal above all. I am loyal to who we are and what we have. I am worshipful of my sisters and worshipful of our sisterhood. I am not cool: you heard it here first. I feel like a mascot sometimes—the guy in the giant-headed fuzzy animal getup at football games, melt¬ing away inside his suit. When it comes to us, I’ll throw anything in.

Bee is our true middle child—free as a butterfly. She loves you, but she doesn’t care what you think. She’s not afraid; she’s got the rest of us holding that down. She’s free to compete, free to kick ass, free to fail and laugh about it. She can be reckless. She’s got less to lose; it’s been a long time since she had a mother. She’s such a force you forget she gets injured. You’ll see her stagger and realize she needs help long before she does. Your heart goes out to her. She doesn’t know how to feel her own pain, but she can feel yours.

Tibby is our younger middle child, our sly observer. She’s the quiet kid in the big Irish family who only wears hand-me-downs. She can be cynical, instantly judgmental, and devastating in her cleverness. She can also, as an old friend memorably put it, “change her mind.” She has a gift for exposing the lies—the lies we tell other people, the lies we tell ourselves. All of this is a casing around an ex¬quisitely sensitive heart. She doesn’t turn her wit against us, almost ever. She entertains us with it, and uses it in her scripts and short films. If only anybody would produce any of them. Sometimes Tibby’s wit sweetens into wisdom. I think that’s what she gives us.

There was a significant epoch in our lives when we organized our friendship around a pair of pants we shared. Really, pants. We called them the Traveling Pants, and according to our mythology, they had the power to keep us together when we were apart.

Our pants were lost in Greece almost exactly ten years ago. How have we fared at keeping together since we lost them, you ask? That is a question.

Growing up is hard on a friendship. There’s no revelation in that. I remember my mom once told me that a good family is built for leaving, because that is what children must do. And I’ve wondered many times, is that also what a good friendship is supposed to be built for? Because ours isn’t. We have no idea how to cope with the leaving. And I’m probably the worst of all. If you need a picture, picture this: me putting my hands over my eyes, pretending the leav¬ing isn’t happening, waiting for us all to be together again.

Excerpted from Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares. Copyright 2011 by Ann Brashares Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.

 

 

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