The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Book vs Movie Review

written by Laura J.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares (2001)

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants directed by Ken Kwapis (2005)

Book Review

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised how good it was considering it had been a best seller; but I thought the writing was great and there was one section in particular where Carmen is feeling guilty for what has happened with her dad, and the guilt is described as a cat. It was so well written and was such an excellent metaphor.

I loved the four characters and each of the challenges they had going on. There was so much depth to each storyline and I loved the bond between the friends. I mean really, what’s not to like?? Young women supporting each other and learning who they are as they experience these life-changing situations and loving themselves in the process. 

If you want to hear my thoughts on the next movie and following books, check out The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 book vs movie!

Movie Review

I had watched this movie before, but it was around the time it came out which means I watched it over 15 years ago! I honestly don’t remember what I thought about it at the time, but this time around I loved it! Everyone was so well cast and it stayed true to the novel. There are some changes I will touch on, but overall, it was a very faithful adaptation! I really loved the book, and the movie gives it a run for the money because the performances were so genuine and heartfelt. America Ferrara in particular has an amazing scene that really got me. But I don’t want to act like the others weren’t also amazing because they were.

From here on out there will be spoilers for both the book and movie!

Lena

I’ll go through this girl by girl, beginning with Lena. In the book Lena has a sister that goes with her to Greece, but in the movie, it is just her.

In the book, her grandparents, who she is visiting, want to set her up with a local boy named Kostas. Lena isn’t interested in him, not because of anything specific to him really, she just isn’t interested.

One day she goes to a lake area to paint and decides to take a dip. She has no swimsuit and so she goes in naked. Kostas ends up showing up and seeing her naked. Lena is mortified and assumes he had followed her. She rushes back to her grandparents and when he grandma sees her all disheveled and upset, all Lena says is “Kostas is not a nice boy!” and goes to her room. Naturally, the grandma assumes Kostas must have attacked her and the grandpa goes to Kostas’ home and the two grandpas’ get in a fight and it’s this huge thing and now the families don’t like each other. Lena feels terrible about the misunderstanding but is too shy to come forward with the real story. She does eventually, and she also goes to that lake where Kostas had seen her. She had been painting it and went back to finish the painting when she sees Kostas there and he is naked because he had been swimming. She realizes that he hadn’t been following her before, but that this is a regular place he goes to for a swim.

After this she starts to have feelings for Kostas but it isn’t until her sister finds out and gets her to tell him, that she finally does.

In the movie, Lena meets Kostas early on just coincidently, and later finds out that their families don’t like each other and her grandma doesn’t want her seeing him. The two of them see each other anyway and fall in love. By their love, the two families let go of their feud.

This story is the most different, because in the book she hardly talks to Kostas and doesn’t kiss him until the end. Plus, Kostas was loved by her grandma. Whereas in the movie they are dating all summer basically and her grandparents had been upset by it.

Tibby

Tibby’s summer is the same in book and movie. She is stuck at home, working at a local store. While working a young girl, Bailey, collapses and she ends up befriending Tibby and Tibby learns that the girl has leukemia. In the book, she has Bailey’s wallet and goes to return it. When she is there, the mom tells her about Bailey’s disease and then Tibby is nicer to her. Bailey sees how Tibby is treating her differently than before and doesn’t like that Tibby’s is now walking on eggshells around her.

In the movie, Bailey comes by because the pants were delivered to her house, and while there, Tibby gives her the wallet. It isn’t until later, that she learns about the illness.

But in both, Bailey helps Tibby film a documentary about different people they know. Tibby thinks these people are losers, but by spending hours with them as they share the hobbies that the person loves, she starts to care about these people and learns to be less judgmental-of others as well as herself.

In the end of the book and movie, Bailey passes on but Tibby has become a changed person because of her.

In the book Tibby had a hamster that had died around the time Bailey went to the hospital the last time and in the end, she is able to accept both deaths and be in a better place.

The book also has this guy she had a crush on, but Bailey made her realize he isn’t worth it but rather the guy who played the video game was better.

Bridget

Bridget goes to a soccer camp in Mexico for the summer and in both she falls for one of the coaches. She is 15 in the book (16 in the movie) and the guy is 19. She is full of energy and is super flirty with him. She sets her sights on him and doesn’t give up. She decides she wants to lose her virginity and it is going to be with this guy.

In both, the two end up having sex and even though as she says, it went just as well as she had hoped, she feels empty afterwards.

A big part of her story is that her mom struggled with depression and had committed suicide. Bridget is always moving at top speed in order to never let herself feel down. She is seeking these outward things to give her happiness and fulfillment. After sleeping with Eric, she realizes that losing her virginity didn’t change anything internally and she struggles with depression for the rest of the camp.

Eric is nice though and tells her he had assumed it wasn’t her first time, and he also thought she was older. He takes responsibility for it them going through with it and apologizes. In the movie, he appears in her hometown and says this to her, but in the book, he said it to her soon after while they were still at the camp.

In both, she writes to Lena expressing her sadness. In the book, Lena has a layover in New York and from there, rather than go home, she flies to Mexico to comfort Bridget. In the movie, Bridget is already home and Lena calls Tibby and tells her Bridget needs cheering up and so Tibby and Carmen  go spend the night and help her feel better as she shares about the hurt from her mom.

Carmen

Carmen lives with her mom and sees her dad just a few times a year. This year though, she is spending all summer with him. However, she soon realizes that it won’t be just the two of them, because he has a fiancée and she has two kids. Carmen feels like the odd one out and feels like she doesn’t belong. She is also half Puerto Rican, while this family is white and blonde.

Eventually she has had enough of being looked down on and runs off. She thinks how her dad is probably looking for her and returns to the house only to see him enjoying dinner with the others as if she wasn’t even there. She throws a rock through the window and then gets a bus back home.

By the way, in both I was totally on Carmen’s side and when she has her outburst I was on her side! She needed to say, or do something, to get through to her father because he and his new family were being so rude!

While talking to her mom and Tibby, she realizes she has a hard time admitting that she is mad at her dad. She calls him up and is honest with him in a really heartbreaking scene in the movie.

In the movie, the three friends convince her to go to her dads wedding and they sit with her. Before the ceremony begins her dad notices her in the audience and pauses things to bring her up to join the family.

In the book, Carmen decided on her own to go to the wedding and she goes alone. She sits in the back and isn’t noticed during the ceremony. But afterwards her dad sees her and has her included in all of the pictures that are taken.

The pants

The magic of the pants comes from the fact that they fit each girl perfectly, despite their different body types. But the reason they each have big experiences while wearing them, is because wearing them reminds each of them of the others and they feel empowered and channel the energy of the friends to do and say the things that need to be done.

Book vs Movie

The movie is such a faithful adaptation and I love the four actresses. I like the Lena storyline better in the movie, because in the book it was so frustrating, she wouldn’t just tell her grandparents the truth of what happened rather than let them continue assuming the worst of Kostas. Even though in the movie it was a kind of cheesy Romeo and Juliet thing they had going on. Tibby’s story was great in both, as was Bridgett’s. With Carmen, I may have liked it a bit better in the book, but the movie was nearly the same and was still great. And Ferrarra’s performance when she is calling her dad is just so amazing, I dare you not to cry while watching that part!

In the end, I am going to say the movie wins! They just really brought this story to life and it is a movie I will def watch again in the future. I loved the book though too and would recommend it to all ages, but it would be a great one for teenagers!