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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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  • Elaine Johnson

    I am trying to comment on the live interview, not sure how to do it.  But I just wanted to share that I graduated from Swampscott High School in 1965 and our group of girlfriends (10-15 of us) are still in contact and we get together every summer for a weekend away and around Christmas time for a luncheon.  In fact, we will all be at an inn in NH in mid-July for 3 days where we talk and play and eat and share.  We email each other all the time, share jokes, hardships, support each other through sickness and weddings and births and deaths.  We are in our mid-60s now and the love keeps growing!
    Elaine Johnson

  • Ricey77

    This is a wonderful acknowledgement of what women should mean to each other, and the need for sisterhood. Recently I went through a year of traumatic life events, atypical events, and if it wasn’t for the support of my friends who afirmed my worth is as valuable today as it was thirty years ago, I am not sure I would have weathered this storm. Thank you Darlene,  Penny, Susan D,Patty , Pota, Sue G, MAC, Sully, Sue W,Murray, all the great women my life has brought me, and my blood sisters, Sandy, Steff, Alison, Lisa, Vicki, …I love you all and have over the last 50+ years! Love isnt weakness its the strength we all need! Thank you I have loved these books and stories.

  • erica

    These types of friendship are not only EASIER when your context is (mostly) shared, but it is, for the most part, imperative.   There are exceptions, of course, but without a common context, friendship is easily snapped, always motivated by something other than elemental bond.  For many people, especially Americans, having a common context can be very very difficult because we moved so frequently as children.  I was not an “Army brat” but I might as well have been (except for the military context).  And I deeply mourn the loss of these common ties.  I certainly have friends that I care very much for, but it’s not what Brashares is speaking about, which is deeper, richer, more profound.  I feel like I grew up everything available to me except for sufficient levels of Vitamin D.  George Eliot wrote: “If the past is not to bind us, where can duty lie?” And “duty” here is meant in the most affirmative sense.  Erica D.

  • David

    I need to write a book called “The Brotherhood of the Traveling Six-Pack”.

  • Heatherberllart

    I appreciate this show – and the respect it gives the author and girls and a woman author. It seems the life of girls is generally considered “fluffy” or at best, a subgroup of the human experience. It’s refreshing to hear a discussion of these lives as something valuable. Why are they not as emblematic of the human experience as stories featuring male protagonists?

  • Terry Tree Tree

    As a heterosexual male, I applaud you ladies that support each other in as many ways as you can.  May read the books, if I run across them at the right time, as my reading is eclectic.

  • John-Manuel Andriote

    I’m not commenting on today’s show, but following the “contact us” instruction to post a message in the comments section. I was a guest on  ”On Point” in 2006, a show dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the AIDS epidemic. I had recently “come out” about my HIV status in a Washington Post commentary. This year, the 30th anniversary of AIDS, an updated and expanded paperback and e-book edition of my award-winning book VICTORY DEFERRED: HOW AIDS CHANGED GAY LIFE IN AMERICA will be published in the fall. Five-plus years since my HIV diagnosis, I am very healthy. I would love to share what I have learned in my reporting on AIDS since 1986, and, in particular, over the past year as I conducted dozens of interviews across the U.S. for the new book. Thanks for your kind consideration. Best wishes, John-Manuel Andriote (www.jmandriote.com; johnmandriote@gmail.com)

  • Shinestr

    I’ve read them all and seen the films.  This was, by far, the most moving.  I cried my way through it and admired Tibby for how she handled her death.  The others did not do as well.  But as usual, they came through for each other and themselves by the end.  I thought Tibby naming her daughter Bailey was great foreshadowing.  And I’m willing to bet money Carmen ends up with Roberto. :)  I’m really impressed by the strength of Bee and Eric’s love.  Who’d have thunk it when they first met?  Not me!  lol

  • Pingback: WBUR’s Summer Reading List | WBUR

  • Kalei Bitner

    Hey, How are you?

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