Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sisterhood Everlasting and Series Thoughts

Reading Sisterhood Everlasting, the "fifth" book in the series that begun with The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, was a bit of a surreal, strange experience for me. Like many YA readers in their 20s, I read the Traveling Pants series as a teenager and was deeply, deeply invested in the lives of Lena, Tibby, Carmen, and Bridget. They were and are such well-written characters, so complex and intricately developed, that it was almost impossible to not be swept away in their lives and struggles.

I loved that series. Loved it. There was no way for me to not read the fifth book, the grown-up book, the one that can exist as a stand-alone if you haven't read the other four. But reading it there was something wrong. These girls had gone through so much, and now they were going through even more. And it was, to a certain extent, more of the same. The issues and struggles the girls went through were similar to, if not the same as, ones they'd battled in the series.

It made me think that as much as I love these characters and as interested as I was to know where they ended up, maybe it's okay to leave them in the past. Because another book means more troubles, more drama, and to a certain extent it has to be contrived, doesn't it? In order to keep the same style/voice/mood/whatever of the series? With this series, I felt like it sort of did.

And I thought of what Gayle Forman has said in response to reader requests for a third Mia and Adam book. It's brilliant and right on the nose. I really encourage you to read this post, by Gayle Forman (especially the fifth, sixth, and seventh questions) because it says so much about stories and series that's really smart. She's talking specifically about If I Stay and Where She Went, but I think it applies so well to many contemporary series and stories.

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