I have to say, as much as I do love this series, I am ready to smack Carmen, and I’m a bit tired of Brashares feeling the need to inject drama into everything. This series is escapist reading. I shouldn’t have felt depressed and worried only 60 pages in. But I’m sure many of you know that teenagers are often set on finishing a series like this just for the sake of finishing. So take my fuddy-duddy complaining with a grain of salt. It’s been awhile since I was 18.
I think that one of the reasons I didn’t like this as much as I hoped was because I didn’t see much growth from the characters. They acted like themselves, I get it, but people do change between their sophomore year in high school and their freshman year in college. At least I hope they do. So it was less than thrilling to me to see the girls continue to struggle with the same type of issues.
Also, I had some concerns with how it all ended, which I don’t seem to be able to spoiler, so look for it after the jump:
At the end, each of the girls who already has a love interest is fairly settled on the idea that this is the guy for her. So basically, four years pass, they all realize the first love is the right love? To me it doesn’t make sense and sets up false expectations. It’s hard enough for teenagers to get through breakups without books giving them the message that they are supposed to know so young, and be right so young. No wonder it feels like the end of the world when you’re dumped, if you are surrounded by messages that there is only one guy for you. I would have vastly preferred it if just ONE of the girls could have moved on to a new love who was acknowledged to be superior.
Sex, Nudity, Dating – Pretty much everyone is having sex in this book. I think it’s limited to one time per set of characters. As you would expect, there’s also kissing, pressing up against each other, wanting sex, fantasizing about sex and discussion of virginity. This book does feature characters using protection (whoo-hoo!), but not all of the characters (booo!) One character has a pregnancy scare and there is discussion of periods related to that subplot. There’s also a character who cheats on her boyfriend by kissing a thirty year old man who is married with two children. He wants to make passionate love to her, but they resist.
Profanity – “God,” “shit,” “bitch,” “hell” and someone thinks about giving someone the finger.
Death, Violence and Gore – During an archeology job, a character works with ancient skeletons.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – A character drinks a beer and says she’s formed an acquaintanceship with beer over the past year. A character is offered wine during dinner. Two characters drink beer. One chapter starts with the following quote from W.C. Fields: Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite, and furthermore, always carry a small snake.
Frightening or Intense Things – A character has a pregnancy scare. Someone’s great-aunt had a stroke. A character suspects her brother needs anti-depressants.