The second book in the series meets up with the girls a whole year later. Usually with series books there’s an expectation that things pick up where they left off, but Brashares decided to skip the school year in favor of bringing us to the next summer vacation. This can be a bit disconcerting for some readers as the book starts. I often had the feeling that I had missed something, then needed to remind myself that it was deliberate, and I’d missed a whole year. For readers who struggle with comprehension, this may be difficult.
Like its predecessor, this book does a great job of tapping into the conflicting feelings teens have of feeling invisible to those they love and feeling like everyone’s focused on them. The tone of the series remains the same, so I would expect anyone who liked The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants to like this as well.
Sex, Nudity, Dating – The girls pretty much pick up where they left off, except that in this book, a single parent of one of the girls begins dating too! There is much more kissing in this book, on the lips, while laying on top of each other, and it’s written about in a much sexier manner than in the prior book. One girl receives a letter where the boy has written about wanting to make love and then crossed it out until it was unreadable. One of the girls has X-rated fantasies (we do not know the content of these). Two characters do more than kiss, although the details how much is left hazy, we do know he removes her shirt and undoes her bra.
We learn more about the girls’ parents, as we’re kept informed of one parent’s dating life, and how concerned the girl is about what her mother might be doing with her date. Another mother confesses that before she was married she lived with a man as if “we were already married.” She also shares that when she came home from meeting with an ex, that was the night that she and the girl’s father made her sister.
A male character impregnates a (minor character) girl and plans on marrying her.
Again, the girls are occasionally in their bras and underwear, they are sometimes seen this way by boys, or seen entirely topless by boys.
Profanity – “damn,” “hell,” “shit,” “bastard”
Death, Violence and Gore – We learn that a secondary character’s dad died. Another secondary character dies. We learn more about Bridget’s mother’s death, including a scene depicting how Bridget found her mother, that some may find disturbing.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – A boy looks hungover. There is beer in a fridge (although no implication that it is for teens). A boy writes that he drank a “couple of pints.” A boy uses a fake ID to by beers for himself and two others, although he is the only one shown drinking. Another boy is offered wine. The girls’ mothers drink a bottle and a half of wine. Lena suspects that at parties when the girls were small the adults did bong hits. There is one reference to someone doing a lot of decorating acting like “Martha Stewart on amphetamines.”
Frightening or Intense Things – We learn that Bridget’s mother was institutionalized for a period of time after high school. All other upsetting info is listed above.