I’ve been vacillating between rating this book poorly because it’s manipulative, or highly because its manipulation freaking worked on me. So we’re going with 3 stars — but I have thoughts! I’m also going to spoil the main thing that happens, but it happens towards the beginning and you can kind of see it coming so I think it’s not too spoiler-y.
“You get older and you learn there is one sentence just four worlds long and if you can say it to yourself it offers more comfort than almost any other. It goes like this… Ready ”
“At least I tried.”
This book takes place about 10 years after the last one, as the girls have spread across the world. Carmen has become an actress on a hit TV show in New York, and is engaged to a kind of dickish producer named Jones. Bridget and Eric are living together in San Francisco, where Bridget’s…not really keeping it together anymore. Lena’s teaching art in Rhode Island. And Tibby has disappeared to Australia, basically dropping off the face of the earth.
The book sort of gets going when Tibby contacts them all with plane tickets to meet her in Santini for a badly needed reunion. But when they arrive, Tibby’s nowhere to be found. They find out the next day that she’s dead — she drowned in the ocean. So at first, I’m thinking this is a Bridget Jones move — they kill off a beloved character in an attempt to let everyone else rediscover life or whatever. But then the manipulation (and spoilers) set in.
Tibby has written everyone letters, asking them to open them at certain times, and do certain things. Obviously, this makes it appear that she planned to die. I DID NOT LIKE THIS. I thought it was romanticizing Tibby’s suicide, allowing her to act as a puppetmaster from beyond the grave. And it really messes with her friends, each of whom react by shutting out everyone else. It doesn’t bring them together — it drives them apart. So the rest of the books follows them each individually — Bridget takes off (of course), leaving Eric behind while she rides her bicycle up and down the California coast. Carmen tries to focus on her career and wedding, with less than stellar results. And Lena stays in Greece for a bit, does the Kostos thing again (I just cannot get behind the Kostas thing. I wonder if it’s because I can’t separate Lena from Alexis Bledel and therefore, Rory Gilmore. And though I love me some Gilmore Girls, Rory pining over boys who treat her badly MAKES ME CRAZY). Of these story-lines, Carmen comes out the clear winner. Her time on a long train ride with a single father hit me hard, and I feel it was the best story from the whole book (and brought Carmen back to me).
Eventually, the letters bring them back together, along with many, many revelations about Tibby’s life. I can’t help but wonder if one of them had just picked up a fucking phone and called her best friends — and called and called until they answered — if 90% of this book could have been avoided. And I know this makes it sound like I hated the book, but I didn’t — because it sucked me in and wouldn’t let me go. But I’m glad it’s over now.