Category: What I'm Reading
Over at Writeonsisters.com on the last Saturday of every month, Robin, Caryn and I blog about what YA books we’re reading. This month’s theme is romance. Caryn picked THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, I chose THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS, and Robin read THE SELECTION. Click here to read the full post.
Now, romance is not my genre. There are only two novels on my bookshelves I’d consider teen romance – SLOPPY FIRSTS by Megan McCafferty and THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS by Ann Brashares. But really, those aren’t even straight-up romances, they’re coming-of-age stories with love interests. Nevertheless, they reflect the type of teenage reader I was – one who wanted realism in love stories, not that love-at-first sight BS. Even in high school I’d seen enough crash-and-burn lust fests to know they don’t usually work out. I wanted to read about relationships that would help me navigate the murky waters of real love. And I wanted to relate to the characters, and insta-love just wasn’t how I rolled. Both of these books fit the bill. I read them well over a decade ago, but recently reread the SISTERHOOD so that’s the one I’ll talk about…
This book is the perfect summer read because it’s literally about summertime, specifically the first summer four best friends spend their school-free months apart. Two of the four (Lena and Bridget) have romantic subplots.
Lena goes to Greece to visit her grandparents. She has absolutely no interest in meeting boys, yet her grandma tries to set her up with a family friend, Kostos. But… “Lena knew boys: They never looked beyond your looks. They pretended to be your friend to get you to trust them, and as soon as you trusted them, they went in for the grope.” (pg. 60) No way was Lena getting involved with Kostos. And she doesn’t. In fact, they have an awkward encounter and she alienates him. But slowly Lena sees that the boy she pushed away is a genuine guy, and that she likes him. Now it’s up to shy Lena to make a move.
I love this romance because it’s not the cliché impossibly-hot-guy-pursues-girl-who-plays-hard-to-get or impossibly-hot-guy-wants-girl-but-it’s-forbidden. It’s the more realistic girl-likes-guy-but-is-scared-to-tell-him. We’ve all been there! At least I have.
Bridget, on the other hand, falls instantly for her college-age soccer coach and pursues him with joyous abandon. And it pays off – even though coach-player relationships are forbidden, he gives in to her seductions one night. It’s implied but not explicitly stated that she loses her virginity to him. She didn’t expect the experience to be so emotional, but it is. And when he states it can never happen again, Bridget is broken.
This was the most real thing my young self had ever read. Such a painful yet common experience.
So if you want a summertime story full of realistic romance and true love in the form of friendship, read THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS. It still makes me swoon and cry – in a good way.