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Literature / The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

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The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is a series of books by Ann Brashares. The series chronicles the lives of four girls who have been best friends since they were babies. One summer before they had to split for the season, they find a pair of jeans that magically fit all four of them. So they decide to rotate the pants around through the mail to keep in touch while they're apart. Each book in the series takes place over one summer.

In 2005, a movie was made based on the first book. It starred Amber Tamblyn, America Ferrera, Blake Lively, and Alexis Bledel. The original series consisted of four books, but a sequel has been released since then, as well as a spin-off taking place in the same universe and focusing on new characters.

Not to be confused with the Sisterhood Series.


Books in the series:

  • The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2001)
  • The Second Summer of the Sisterhood (2003)
  • Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood (2006)
  • Forever in Blue: The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood (2007)
  • Sisterhood Everlasting (2011)

This book series and film adaptation provide examples of:

  • Adaptational Curves: Tibby in the books is said to be petite and flat-chested like a younger child, the movies has her portrayed by the slightly shapelier Amber Tamblyn.
  • Adapted Out: Perry, Bridget's introverted twin brother, is adapted out of the movies.
    • Zig-zagged with Effie, Lena's effervescent younger sister. There's no indication that she exists in the first movie and doesn't join her sister in Greece. In the second movie, she plays a larger role and is played by Lucy Hale, and it's as though she's been there the whole time.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Very weirdly averted. At first, Carmen getting mad at her mother for getting pregnant might seem like she's forgetting her experiences in the first and second book, but her inner narrative states that she can figure out what happens when she gets angry and the fallout, but she still does it.
    • Played straight for almost everyone in Sisterhood Everlasting. Carmen lets someone she has no real connection with absorb her life, Lena watches life drift by by waiting for Kostos again, and the girls make the same mistake their mothers did by letting each other slip away.
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  • Affectionate Nickname: They all have these for each other: Carma, Lenny, Tibs, and Bee.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Lena gives two of these to Kostos.
  • Asians Eat Pets: In the first tome, one of the narrators quip that one of the reason to abandon a dog would be moving to a country where dog meat is eaten, like Korea.
  • Attractiveness Isolation: Lena.
  • The Baby Trap: In the second book, a girl that Kostos sleeps with after Lena breaks up with him fakes a pregnancy in order to guilt Kostos into marriage.
  • Blood Sisters: On the eve of their separation, magic has come to them in a pair of pants that they will share. They are the 'sisters of the pants' that link them in hearts and spirits...
  • Book Ends: Carmen narrates the prologue of the first book and the epilogue of Sisterhood Everlasting.
  • Break the Cutie: Lena in the second book.
    • Carmen when she's without her friends at college.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Carmen does this to her father in the first book.
  • Changing Yourself For Love: Albert, the father of Carmen, who divorced her mother Christina and then remarried with Lydia, was a lot more religiously praticant than with his former wife, being observed praying by Carmen.
  • Character Development: A lot over the books, Bridget possibly receiving the most.
  • Chick Lit
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Bridget and Billy Kline in the second book.
  • Dead Guy Junior: In the sequel, there's Tibby's daughter, Bailey.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Tibby.
  • Did They or Didn't They?: It's purposely left ambiguous if Bridget and Eric did in the first book, though in the fourth book Bridget finally says it actually happened.
  • Disappeared Dad: Carmen's father was one before the start of the series.
  • Disposable Fiancé: Kostos has one in the original series and Carmen has one in the sequel. Both Evil All Along.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Implied with Bridget's mother.
    • Subverted with Tibby in Sisterhood Everlasting.
  • Dysfunctional Family: Bridget's family.
  • Easily Forgiven: Bridget in Sisterhood Everlasting. She leaves Eric in the middle of the night and doesn't get in contact with him for weeks, then comes back into his life just long enough to ask for money before leaving for Australia and not getting in contact with him for months. At the end of the book, she calls him to her and tells him about their pregnancy. And...he forgives her. Just like that.
  • Epigraph: Each chapter begins with one.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Wild and unstoppable Bridget. Her hair is her most striking feature, so when she dyes it in the second book, it's clear something's up.
  • False Friend: Julia to Carmen in the fourth book.
  • Family Business: Lena's grandparents run a Greek restaurant together.
  • First Girl Wins: A gender-flipped version. All the girls end up with their romantic partner from the first book in the final installment: Lena is with Kostos, Bridget is with Eric, and Tibby had a child with Brian. The exception is the perpetually single Carmen who didn't have a boyfriend at the end of the first book.
  • Four-Girl Ensemble: There is Lena, who is a shy, introspective aspiring artist, Bridget, who is daring and courageous with gorgeous blond hair, Carmen, who is the organized one and the "glue" keeping the Sisterhood together, and Tibby, who is known as the rebel and disdainful one.
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble: Tibby (the Cynic) is a bitter drama queen. Carmen (the Optimist) has enthusiasm for life. Lena (the Realist) overthinks everything. Bridget (the Apathetic) acts on impulse rather than reason.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Carmen, Tibby, Bridget, and Lena spend their first summer apart. Carmen snaps and gets mad (choleric) so she comes home expecting Tibby to understand because Tibby walks around screaming, "Screw the world" because that's easier than feeling something (melancholic). Carmen and Tibby visit Bridget who talks about her mother and she tells her friends that she just wants to feel good and happy and alive (sanguine). The last one to join them is Lena who feels so sad that people like Kostas and Bridget who have lost everything can still be open to love while she, who has lost nothing, is not (phlegmatic).
  • Friendship Moment: Especially the endings of the books are full of them.
  • Gray Rain of Depression: When Carmen's dad moves out.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Played straight with Bridget in the sequel.
  • He Is All Grown Up: Brian by the third book.
  • Heroic BSoD: The entire year between the first and second book serves as one for Bridget.
  • Hippie Parents: How Tibby's parents were before they settled down and had more kids.
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: All of the girls at some point.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Subverted in the third and fourth books. Bridget went to Brown, but the rest of the girls went to some prestigious schools outside of the ivy league.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Tibby (following the cynic route) and Lena (following the stoic and distant variety), both balancing Tsundere Carmen and Genki Girl Bridget.
  • Littlest Cancer Patient: Bailey in the first book.
  • Lamaze Class: In the third book, Carmen goes with her mom to Lamaze class, but it's Tibby who's there when she gives birth.
  • Missing Mom: Bridget's mom died sometime before the series begins. It's implied to have been suicide.
  • Mood-Swinger: Bridget, who is said to be a lot like her mom in this regard. A popular Alternate Character Interpretation is that she has bipolar disorder.
  • Naked First Impression: Lena and Kostos.
  • Pregnancy Scare: To Tibby, in the fourth book, after a condom accident. Though it wouldn't have been quite so bad if she hadn't been juggling multiple Idiot Balls during the whole thing. Without waiting for any indication that she was actually pregnant, she freaked out over the exact timing of when her period is due (is it one month after the last one began or after the last one ended?), and broke up with her boyfriend out of fear of the pregnancy.
  • Raised by Grandparents: Kostos.
  • Satellite Love Interest: There were a couple in the first series, namely Win and Leo. Eric fell into this trope in the sequel.
  • Sex Changes Everything:
    • Tibby and Brian in the fourth book.
    • Bridget with Eric in the first.
  • Scenery Porn: Almost every shot in Greece is gorgeous.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Lena is quiet and withdrawn, while her sister Effie is confident and outgoing.
    • Goes for Bee and her twin brother Perry, too. Bee is outgoing, passionate, impulsive and a jock, while Perry is very quiet, withdrawn, and lives at his computer.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Lena, though in a more realistic case than usual. Her striking good looks contrast with her antisocial personality, and most people are too intimidated to even approach her.
  • Spicy Latina: Carmen's hurt feelings and temper lead her to throw a rock through her father's dining room window and then run away.
  • There Are No Therapists: Not played completely straight, as it's indicated that Bridget has been to a therapist before. But considering all the things that Bridget (and the others) go through throughout the books, it's odd that seemingly all of her problems are solved more through projects and a good talk with a loved one. Particularly extreme in Sisterhood Everlasting, where she states that "even the sky felt like a prison" and she is in such distress that she runs away from her current life and can't bear her emotions, but it's all resolved by getting pregnant and connecting with Brian and little Bailey.
  • True Companions: Carmen narrates saying, "Together, it was as if we formed one single, complete person." The trope is frequently deconstructed throughout the series. The first novel's overarching plot is about the girls spending an extended time apart for the first time in their lives. When Carmen goes to college in the fourth book, she realizes that she finds it nearly impossible to make new friends because she's grown so accustomed to always having her childhood friends with her. Sisterhood Everlasting begins with the girls having been separated for a long time and regretting not having kept in touch better, and Tibby dies right before they're all able to meet up again.
  • Tsundere: Carmen, although she rarely is Tsun to any of her romantic interests, instead towards her family and occasionally her friends.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Bailey.

Alternative Title(s): The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants