A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this book's emphasis on strong, supportive girl friendships may inspire readers -- and provides some nice counter-programming to clique lit's "frenemies." The characters do make some bad decisions, but they grow from them. There's some sexual content, language, and some pretty intense emotional stuff. Teens living out their own coming-of-age stories will likely get the most out of this book.
What's the story?
Lena, Bridget, Tibby, and Carmen have been best friends since birth. Now, just before they're about to spend their first summer apart, they discover a pair of jeans that miraculously fits all of them, despite their differing physiques. And not just fit -- the Pants make each girl look and feel beautiful and confident. They don't know it yet, but they'll need that confidence during a summer that will test them, each in different ways.In a solemn midnight ceremony that will resonate with teen readers, the girls make up a compact about the Pants, part of which is that they'll send them back and forth among themselves throughout the summer.
Is it any good?
Ann Brashares is a great storyteller, building a reservoir of affection her characters that makes the climax of each of their stories effective. This book's main characters certainly experience their share of drama: Tibby befriends a 12-year-old with leukemia, Carmen's father has a new family, Lena falls in love in Greece, and Bridget has her first sexual experience, which devastates her.
The friendship that the four girls share is the kind every teen longs for: rock solid and dependable, with no rivalries or pettiness to mar it, filled only with kindness, love, and understanding. If this friendship -- along with the girls' openness to the world and their capacity for honest self-appraisal and growth -- gives teen readers something to which to aspire, then this book will deserve its popularity.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about friendship. How is it often portrayed in the media? What sort of impact do those portrayals have on real life girl friendships? Why do you think this book -- and its subsequent sequels -- struck such a chord with readers?
For kids who love coming-of-age stories
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