I admit it, I love YA literature. It's easy and fun to read, and a nice escape from adulthood.
I GET BY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS (AND THE PANTS)
This weekend I plowed into the final book in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares: Forever in Blue. This series has taken its four wonderful heroines from the summer before their sophomore year in high school to (in this final book) the summer before their sophomore year in college. Through all the changes in their lives, they have always been there for each other--and the magic of their friendship is somehow aided and represented by the one pair of magical thrift store jeans that remarkably fit each of their four different figures perfectly.
I think Ann Brashares has beautifully captured these four teenage girls in all of their uncertainties, confusion, passion, worries, joys and fears. I cared very much about Bee, Lena, Tibby and Carmen, and I felt their happiness and their pain deeply in each book. The fourth book moved each of them to more mature decisions and more adult challenges and choices, and how each handled them reflects their individuality, yet also their solidity as a Sisterhood, no matter what happens. In the end they discover it was not necessarily the Pants they needed--but simply each other.
How well I remember the intensity of teenage friendship. Though I never had three "bestfriends from the womb" (the Sisters "met" when their four moms attended the same prenatal yoga class while pregnant with them), I have certainly had those deep and abiding relationships that made such a difference in my life in high school and college. I was never good at making friends, and perhaps way too needy and immature with the friends I did have. I always was one to take life too intensely and too seriously. But I loved them deeply and we went through our life changes together. I am still in contact with several of them, and though we have drifted apart, I will always cherish who they were to me during that time. One of my closest friends, at age 45, will be married for the first time this summer and I am thrilled for her and can't wait to go. My college roomie, who probably thought I was just way too intensely needy in the way I looked up to her, but who taught me so much about how a Christian woman should live her life, still exchanges Christmas cards with us and is a fellow adoptive mom (Twins, in her case!).
As an adult, married with a child, I find friendships much more difficult both to create and to maintain. The intensity of love, time, energy and devotion that I used to devote to my friends, is now devoted to my husband and son. I don't have a 'best friend' or even very many female friends at all. And it's very difficult for me to pick up the phone and call someone, or even to check the local mommies web site to see what's going on and see if hubby, little man and I can get involved with some new people. But I know it's something I need to do, and one of my goals this year is to build some new relationships. Perhaps not on that intense, all-consuming "Best Friends Forever" level that high school and college engender, but on an adult, mature, loving and supportive level. Definitely a challenge!
The other books I've been reading are the "Alice" series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. These are delightful simply because Alice is such a typical and "real" young girl, getting into all the scrapes and quirky foibles that junior high offers just about anyone. This weekend I enjoyed "Reluctantly Alice" and "All but Alice", which together take Alice through most of her seventh grade year. They are light and amusing and quite enjoyable.
My Talking Book listening is currently "Anne of Avonlea", second in the Anne of Green Gables series. This series is beautifully written and engaging, if sometimes a little slow and ponderous. The nature of life in the late 1800s is so much different than life now (the first 2 chapters of "Anne of Green Gables" always make the adoptive mom in me cringe.) But Anne too, in her own way, meets life's foibles head on with imagination and energy, and she is just as delightful a heroine as the Sisters or Alice.