Set in the same hometown as Brasheres‘ bestselling Travelling Pants novels, 3 Willows picks up after the previous series has ended. The book introduces three new friends Ama, Jo and Polly and focuses on that awkward summer that happens after eighth grade. Friends since third grade the girls are finding that they don’t have as much in common now as they hover on the brink of entering high school. Written in the same format as the Pants book, the novel alternates between each of the three characters and documents their changes and discoveries over the course of a summer.
I admire Brashares’ deft handling or presentation of being a teenager. The girls are both needy and fiercely independant, determined and insecure and full of the riotous emotions I recall so clearly from those years of my own life. The parents are also well done; they are shown as loving and imperfect without being idiots or completley absentee as many parents are handled in this genre.
Tibby’s family, Brian, and Lena’s sister, Effie, all make appearances in the book, which will thrill fans of the Pants books. In fact, the four friends of Traveling Pants fame are legends in their own high school. Ama, Jo and Polly are enamoured of the idea of a magical friendship and have been searching for their own shareablel talisman. Believing they need something concrete to bind them together, the girls begin to drift until they learn that there are many different types of friendships and that you don’t need a pair of pants to have magic in your life.