Sisterhood Everlasting is the novel I've been searching for. The final installment in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, it is set ten years after the last book and continues the story of Lena, Carmen, Bridget and Tibby as they head towards their 30th birthdays. The novel is wonderful and heartbreaking, with vivid characters and a deep understanding of human emotion, and although I only just heard about it, it's a book that I've been longing to read for a while: a young adult-style novel about women in their twenties. As a teenager, I always worked through life's problems and challenges through books. The adventures and experiences of fictional teenagers, often so emotionally similar to my own experiences, helped me to understand things, and provided me with comfort when growing up seemed too much to handle. When I finished reading the third instalment in the Sisterhood series as a college freshman, I cried and held it to my chest, because these characters, like me, were terrified of losing their close friendships when they moved away to college. Although very few YA novels (or any novels) touch on the college experience, the themes and emotions still felt incredibly relevant to me.
And then I graduated. I felt like I had been thrown out into the world, with no idea what I was doing. I was miserable. I missed my college friends. I lacked direction or belief in myself. And I yearned for a novel about characters who were experiencing the same thing. I wanted to read about confused girls in their twenties, so that I could connect with them and figure out what I was supposed to do. How I was supposed to get through this. I still adored YA novels, but I felt that lack of what some people are calling "new adult books" very fiercely.
Although the characters in Sisterhood Everlasting are older than those in the book I had pictured, it fits the bill perfectly. Perhaps because the protagonists are familiar as teenagers, as friends, as new college students, they are the perfect subjects for a book about where life takes you when you no longer have your safety nets in place and how you deal with everything changing. Is it a realistic portrayal of life at twenty-nine? I couldn't tell you, as I'm not there yet. But it felt incredibly genuine to me as a younger twenty-something. The characters are not always likeable. They're certainly not always mature. They are often lost and confused, dealing with their problems in different and often destructive ways. They struggle and they grow. The result is a novel that made me cry, both in sadness and in happiness, one that I couldn't put down, and one that left me feeling powerful and connected when I turned the final page.
If, like me, you've been yearning for a YA book about young adults, rather than older teenagers, this is definitely one to check out.