Having turned to adult fiction (My Name is Memory, 2010, etc.), Brashares offers what may or may not be a closing novel to her popular Traveling Pants series.
Forever in Blue: The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood (2007) ended almost a decade ago as Lena, Carmen, Bridget and Tibby completed their freshman year of college. Now approaching 30, the four friends have hit troubled waters, individually and as a group. In fact, they are barely in touch with each other. In San Francisco, Bridget avoids committing to sensitive immigration lawyer Eric (whose patience is the book’s great mystery). Lena lives alone in self-proclaimed poverty and isolation in Providence, where she also teaches at RISD, but her heart still belongs to her lost Greek love Kostos. With a weekly gig on a TV police drama, Carmen’s acting career has taken off and she is engaged to an ABC executive nobody else likes. The three have not heard much from Tibby since she moved to Australia with her boyfriend Brian several years ago. Then out of the blue, Tibby sends tickets for a reunion on the Greek island of Santorini, where they have already shared so much. Lena, Carmen and Bridget are thrilled as they gather. But tragedy strikes: Tibby drowns before she sees them, and the women suspect suicide. Devastated, they return to their separate lives and stop communicating. But Tibby has left each a mysterious package with a letter asking for another gathering on April 2. Her force of will influence her friends to make the right decisions to find happiness. Carmen must find a way to be true to herself. Bridget must find purpose in her life and get over her fear of commitment. Lena must find a way not to fear love. The ending leaves just enough romantic wiggle room for one more installment.
“Pants” fans who have grown up with the girls and love them will no doubt overlook the improbabilities, unrealized characters and plot manipulations to make this a bestseller.