"First novelist Brashares successfully creates four distinct characters, each with her own story line, and ties them together with a creative device: a pair of pants purchased in a thrift shop. As four lifelong friends prepare to split up for the summer, they discover that the second-hand jeans look good on all of them, despite their different physiques. They promise to rotate the jeans among them and, upon their reunion at summer&s end, record their favorite adventures on the pant legs. These magical pants serve as a substitute friend for each girl as she is tested that summer, from Carmen, who goes to visit her father only to find out he&s engaged to a woman with two teenage kids, to Tibby, who befriends a precocious 12-year-old cancer victim. Even though they are separated for most of the summer, the friends communicate their love and understanding for one another (Tibby writes to Lena, ""Don&t torture yourself, Len. We love you too much,"" to console her friend for mistakenly accusing a cute neighbor boy of spying on her while she skinny dips in Greece)."