The second book in the hugely popular Traveling Pants series is out in paperback this month and is a must-have for any girl serious about her YA lit. Brashares writes emotional stories about feisty girls whose lives are both simple and complicated. These books are so good, it's hard to say whether this second installment is better than the first—great news for lovers of the original.

The girls are once again facing the summer months. Tibby is off to film school in Virginia. Bridget, after a harrowing experience last summer, and still dealing with the death of her mom, takes off for Alabama to see her estranged grandmother. Carmen is struggling with the idea of her mother dating. Lena, who fell in love with Kostos last summer in Greece, is homebound this summer and no longer with her Greek love.

Those who missed the first summer of the Pants might want to read that book before this one. Otherwise, it may be difficult to understand the turmoil the girls are going through. Brashares doesn't spend a lot of time backtracking over the stories, which might lose some readers. At the very least, they'll be left out of the fullness of each character's angst, especially that of Bridget and Tibby.

Reading these books is such a massive joy that you'll be better off for it. Besides, you gotta prepare yourself—the third summer begins in January. (Dec., 416 pp., $8.95)
Reviewed by: 
Taylor Morris