A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers can draw inspiration from the quotes at chapter openings. Easy parallels can be drawn from each girl's experiences that give readers something to think about. Shows the many different ways similarly situated people can respond to change or conflict. Lends itself to discussions about body image, social awkwardness, and other issues related to group dynamics and growing up.
Growing up looks different for everyone but usually requires inner strength and lots of support from your friends. A major theme is self-acceptance and learning to feel comfortable in your own skin. Promotes learning to embrace change, speak up for yourself, and give people grace when they've made mistakes.
Positive Role Models
The girls find themselves in situations that challenge their self-image. Each certainly makes mistakes, but they learn from them and share those lessons with one another to become stronger people. Also, the deep friendships between the girls -- even when they're apart -- demonstrate that "found" family groups can be just as important as the family you're born into.
Main characters are all women, each with extensive development. Only minor representation of any ethnic or racial minority: Lena, described as having tanned skin due to her Greek heritage, spends time exploring her family at least on a surface level. A character with a serious illness serves more as a device to spark emotional development in Tibby rather than having their own well-rounded narrative.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
In addition to lots of kissing, there's skinny-dipping and pining after a boy who doesn't really know the girl is interested. One main character throws herself at an older boy, with whom it's implied that she has sex. The author takes time to focus on why she almost immediately realizes she wasn't ready for a sexual relationship, but the age difference between her and the older boy is glossed over. Some parental guidance may be needed to work through the issues that led her to decide that taking that step was a mistake for her at that time.
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A fair amount of strong language, like "s--t."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Underage girls sneak out of camp to a bar, where counselors are drinking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is the first book in Ann Brashares' series about a group of girls who share a pair of "magical" pants to bond and stay connected to one another's experiences. This book's emphasis on strong, supportive girl friendships may inspire readers to examine how they interact with their own friends and what they think being supportive to other people looks like. Readers learn the rules to wearing the pants, which help the girls discover their inner strength and positive self-image. The characters do make some poor decisions, but they each grow and learn from them. There's some sexual content (lots of kissing, it's implied one charatcer has sex with a boy), language (including "s–t"), and some pretty intense, if mostly age-appropriate, emotional situations. This coming-of-age story offers many points of connection for readers going through puberty or readers interested in narratives that examine the highs and lows of growing older, making friends, and learning to be an adult.
Is It Any Good?
Ann Brashares is a great storyteller, building a reservoir of affection for 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 most teens long for: rock solid and dependable, with no rivalries or pettiness to mar it, filled only with kindness, love, and understanding. This friendship -- along with the girls' openness to the world and their capacity for honest self-appraisal and growth -- gives teen readers something to aspire to.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.