________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 21 . . . .June 24, 2005


Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood.

Ann Brashares.
New York, NY: Delacorte Press (Distributed in Canada by Random House of Canada), 2005.
338 pp., cloth, $23.95.
ISBN 0-385-72935-9.

Subject Headings:
Best friends-Fiction.
Jeans (Clothing)-Fiction.
Conduct of life-Fiction.

Grades 8-11 / Ages 13-16.

Review by Joan Marshall.

** /4



Like before, she was laid open by a glimpse of intimacy and when she tried to find it again, there was no one and nothing there. Eric offered, whether he meant to or not, some giant idea of love. But she only grasped it long enough to know her poverty. He pushed her to destroy herself. He made her want and then gave her no satisfaction.

Why did he do this to her? Why did she let him? How could she give herself away like this, even after she'd already learned such a bitter lesson?

She wished he hadn't found her in that feverish vulnerable state. She wished he hadn't worried over her and taken care of her and held her all night. Having it was ecstasy, but its sudden, inexplicable loss was too painful to bear. She'd rather go through her life doubting such a thing was possible than knowing it was real and she couldn't have it.

What a pitiful waste she was. She was willing to give away, to throw away, the very best she had. For what? It was one thing to sacrifice yourself for a great cause. It was another to destroy yourself for a person who didn't even want you. It was an act of self-immolation, a sacrifice nobody wanted, that did nobody any good. What could be more tragic than that?

She thought she was independent and strong, but she got one small taste of love and she was hungrier than anyone. She was ravenous.


Girls in Pants is the third book in a series about the friendship of four American high school girls from middle class Washington. In this instalment, the girls spend the post high school summer nervously contemplating the decisions they have made about college and falling in love with various wonderful boys.

     Lena and Bridget are mourning past love relationships while Tibby falls in love with Brian, a boy she's known forever, and Carmen attracts Win, a pre-med student whom she meets on her various trips to the hospital. Lena has to convince her traditional Greek parents that she really should go to art school. Carmen has to come to terms with her mother's pregnancy. Bridget must learn to be friends with Eric, instead of lovers, as he has a new girlfriend. Finally, Tibby contemplates what her family means to her as her younger sister endures a close brush with death.

     In this claustrophobic, melodramatic, cell-phone world, all the girls rely on the confidence they receive from a jointly owned pair of pants that they pass back and forth to the group member who needs them the most.

     In 30 short chapters, Brashares captures perfectly the uneasy anxiety, second-guessing and reflective world of self-absorbed middle class young women. They manage to surface for air long enough to support an aging grandmother, to help birth a mother's new baby, to develop a winning soccer team and to win an art scholarship. Brashares deftly integrates the main plot details of the first two books so that this novel could be read alone... Not that it would be!!

     Although Brashares tries valiantly to differentiate these four girls, they are all basically the same bundle of teenage angst facing different problems. They work together as a group to support each other, never disagreeing, only breathlessly cheering each other on. Their mothers having met while pregnant with the girls, this group has a long history of shared activity and traditions (see travelling pants above) that flashes "Friends Forever" in neon during a hot Washington summer. The camp, art school, restaurant, hospital and home scenes are generic middle class and could have meaning for any teenage girl in North America.

     This is a hugely popular series of books as it meets the needs of young girls who need to validate the crucible of friendship and to re-assure themselves that they will fall in love with amazing boys. The series stresses the necessity of developing a right relationship with your parents and siblings, dealing with your own feelings and finding your own way. As a series, it will keep girls reading until they discover chick lit for women or move on to real literature.


Joan Marshall is the teacher-librarian at Fort Richmond Collegiate in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.