The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Summary
by Ann Brashares

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In 2005, author Anne Brashares created a cult-like following with the publication of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. The life-long friendship shared by four girls—Carmen, Bridget, Lena and Tibby—now spans four novels, and the four core characters have shared many life experiences, chronicled and laid bare for readers to observe.

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On the night before the girls plan to go their separate ways for the summer, Carmen buys a pair of secondhand jeans for $3.49. The jeans ostensibly are nothing special; they have a few bleach stains and are even pretty worn in spots. The four friends agree that the pants will go to whomever they fit best, but the girls soon learn that the jeans are "magical pants" that fit each of the girls perfectly, despite their differences in build. Because the friends are slated to spend the summer apart from one another, the girls devise a plan to stay in touch: the pants will be mailed from girl to girl. That night, the group of friends takes the vow of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Over the course of the summer following their sophomore year of high school, each girl finds herself in a difficult situation in which the pants play a key role.

Lena heads to Greece to visit her grandparents, and while there, she finds love with a local boy. Bridget goes to soccer camp in Baja, Mexico, where she finds herself in a difficult situation with the coach. Carmen travels to South Carolina, where she will stay with her father. Upon her arrival, she discovers that her father is remarried and has a new family. And Tibby begrudgingly plans to remain at home in Maryland working a boring, minimum wage job. Little does she know that she will develop a meaningful friendship with a twelve-year-old who has terminal leukemia.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and its first sequel, The Second Summer of the Sisterhood, have been made into major motion pictures starring America Ferrera, Alexis Bledel, Amber Tamblyn, and Blake Lively.

Extended Summary


At a thrift store in Georgetown, Carmen buys a pair of blue jeans. Soft and worn in all the right places, they have had a happy life. They are here because life changes, sometimes painfully, but generally for the best. That is the “Way of the Pants.” Carmen pays $3.49 for them and does not even try them on; she simply feels the need to purchase something, and there they are. When she gets home, she puts the pants in the back of her closet and forgets about them until the afternoon before the four girls are preparing to separate for the summer.

These four girls have been together since before birth. Their mothers took an aerobics class designed especially for pregnant women. The girls were born within seventeen days of each other, and the entire group spent some time together for several years. Although the mothers did not maintain their relationships, the girls are “everything to one another,” especially during the summer. Bridget is a natural athlete, Lena is the beautiful one, Tibby is the nonconformist, and Carmen is the angry one. They love each other, and the pants are symbolic of their determination to remain friends no matter what happens to them or around them. This is the story of how the Traveling Pants came to be.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

Carmen is packing as Tibby, Lena, and Bridget watch. She is leaving in the morning for South Carolina, and they are all sad at their impending separation. Three of them will be leaving soon; only Tibby will stay behind to spend her summer alone in her drudgery, working for minimum wage at Wallman’s drug store in Bethesda. Tibby suggests Carmen can make her feel better by giving her the pants she got at the secondhand store. They have never looked too appealing to Carmen, but now that someone else is showing some interest they look a little better. Tibby slips them on and the other girls are stunned: she is a slender, shapely girl, which she generally hides under her oversized, shapeless clothes. The jeans fit her...

(The entire section is 6,485 words.)