3 Willows: the Sisterhood Grows by Ann Brashares is about three girls Ama, Jo, and Poly who have been friends since the third grade. The story takes place in Bethesda, Maryland which is the same town the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series took place. Readers will recognize a few familiar faces from the original series.
Introducing a New Sisterhood
Brashares introduces three new girls; Poly, Ama, and Jo who are much younger than the original sisterhood. The girls are different from Lena, Carmen, Tibby, and Bridget. For instance, the three girls have only been friends since the third grade unlike the original sisterhood who have been friends since birth. Throughout The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, the girls were in constant contact through letters, emails, and instant messages. In contrast, the three girls write letters to each other but often cross them out or don’t send them to each other at all. The letters do help to explain their emotions and how they are reluctant to break off their friendship entirely.
Summer is a Time for Change
Poly has remained unchanged since the day the girls met. She longs for the joyful and carefree times the girls once shared. While Ama and Jo are away for the summer, Poly stays home to earn money by babysitting while attempting to spend more time with her mother. Poly dreams of becoming a model after learning that her grandmother was a model. She decides to use the money she earns for modeling camp. This venture means that she must change a few things about herself. Throughout the summer, she learns family secrets and some painful life lessons.
During the summer before high school, Jo spends her vacation with her mom at the family beach house. She gets a job at the local restaurant and makes friends with the older and “cooler” girls who work there. There are family problems at home, but she chooses to ignore them. Jo experiences a summer romance with a cute boy she meets on the bus. There is an instant connection between them but Zach has to decide if he already has a girlfriend. The girlfriend returns and causes trouble for Jo. After an incident at the restaurant, Jo learns a hard lesson in knowing who her real friends are.
Ama is an overachiever who is trying to step out of the shadow of her older sister Esi. She expects to spend her summer doing research or surrounded by books at an academic program. Instead, she is given a scholarship for Wild Adventures in Wyoming.. During her time at camp, Ama must learn to face her biggest fear.
Throughout the story, it may seem to readers that the girls’ friendship is going to eventually end. However, near tragedy bring the three friends back together. Even though this novel is targeted toward a younger audience, it doesn’t mean that older teens and adults won’t enjoy it. At some point in our lives, we have felt that we have outgrown our friends or had to learn who our real friends were. Like other novels by Ann Brashares, 3 Willows deals with real issues that teens cope with everyday. The pace of the novel is slow, but it is gracefully well written. This story proved that like willow trees, friendships need time to cultivate and grow.