In spite of its promising summer chick lit description, Sorority Sisters didn't catch my attention until about halfway into its pages. Welch gives readers equal time with each girl. The story is told from the perspectives of Laurie, Ellen, Diane, and Karen, four women who --despite their membership in the same sorority -- are all quite different. Told in alternating chapters beginning in the fall of 1975, the story winds its way through their college years and beyond. Although varying the narrative voices allows readers to hear the inner thoughts and feelings of each girl, it also fragmented the novel for me -- at least, in the beginning.
When I was finally able to keep each narrator straight (around their senior year of college), I was able to enjoy the story much more fully. At that point, hearing from each girl made the novel feel more round, rather than difficult to follow. I suppose I also found their lives as they matured more interesting than when the girls entered college as freshmen. I related to their tales of finding jobs and renting their first apartments more than I related to stories of raucous fraternity parties and dressing for sorority dinners on Monday nights.
As Welch takes readers on a journey through the women's college years and after, she explores the many themes that crop up as we all grow older: romantic relationships, ever-changing relationships with family, and -- of course -- female friendships. As in real life, some of the girls make good, sound decisions while others fall first into one trap and then another. Through it all, in spite of some bumps along the way, the four manage to grow even closer as the years go by.
In the end, I found Sorority Sisters to be an accurate portrayal of female friendships through the many stages of life. As I read, I made comparisons to my own group of friends, whose friendship has lasted a decade and a half (so far). We met in middle school, and although we've fought like real sisters do, we remain closer today than ever before. Through time, close friendships develop into family-like connections, and Welch describes these connections beautifully in Sorority Sisters.