I just finished Ann Brashare's newest novel 3 Willows. Brashares is the author of the popular The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. This novel follows three new friends, Polly, Jo and Ama, who happen to be polar opposites. The book's themes are self-discovery and the value of friendship.
I only saw the Traveling Pants films, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this novel. I saw this autographed book at Borders and bought it. Brashares mentioned the characters from her other novels throughout 3 Willows, which I found a bit annoying. Had I not seen the films, I would've been really confused.
Jo, Ama and Polly have just finished middle school, and they are off for the summer before their first year of high school. They haven't been as close as they were in elementary school when they planted the willow trees given to them by their third grade teacher. Their trees have continued to grow while these best friends have grown apart. Each friend faces challenges in this impressionable time during their summer before high school.
Ama is an intelligent perfectionist who goes to a summer enrichment program that happens to involve exploring the wilderness and hiking, much to her dismay. She meets a cute boy and learns a lot about her inner strength and abilities.
Jo spends the summer at her family's beach house and gets a job as a bus girl for a local restaurant. Her parents haven't been getting along since the tragic death of her brother Finn. Jo meets a boy who happens to have a girlfriend, so she has to deal with heartbreak on top of the turmoil of divorce.
Polly lives with her eccentric mother Dia who is battling alcoholism. Polly gets it in her head that she should model since her grandmother was a model. She starts extreme dieting and attends a modeling camp. Luckily she discovers what is most important.
The girls finally find their way back to each other. I really liked how Brashares used the willow imagery throughout the novel to tie everything together. 3 Willows is definitely geared toward the young adult audience, but I enjoyed it, and it was an easy beach read.