“Not all who wander are lost.”—J. R. R. Tolkien
Carmen describes the pants she bought at a thrift shop: blue jeans, just the right color and stiffness. She didn’t even try them on. Carmen tells us where she and her three best friends are spending the summer. Carmen will be in South Carolina with her father. Lena will be in Greece with her grandparents. Tibby will stay home in Bethesda, Maryland. Bridget will be at soccer camp in Baja California, Mexico. The girls have never before spent a summer apart.
The girls were friends even before they were born. Their mothers became friends in an aerobics class for pregnant women. They let the babies play together once they were born, but the mothers soon stopped being friends. Carmen thinks their mothers didn’t—and don’t—make friendship a priority, and she says that the mothers are uncomfortable around one another, especially since Bridget’s mother died a few years ago.
Carmen says that she and her friends are the most important people in one another’s lives, and that the Pants represent their vow to stay close. She says she almost threw the pants away before she knew the truth about them.
The Prologue is told in the first-person point of view, from Carmen’s perspective, which suggests that Carmen is the leader of her group of friends. The first-person point of view is the “I” point of view, as though the narrator is a character in the story and is telling that story directly to readers. The first-person point of view uses the first-person pronouns, including I, me, my, our, and we. In the Prologue, Carmen introduces us to her group of friends and sets up the premise of the novel: This is the first summer the friends have ever spent apart. They will be on their own, in very different places, and a pair of pants will help them stay connected. The rest of the novel isn’t from Carmen’s perspective. We learn how each of the girls will spend her summer, what each girl thinks, and what each girl feels. Carmen doesn’t get any more attention than any of the other girls. However, the fact that she is the one whose voice we hear first suggests that she holds a special position in the group, that she has the authority to introduce the girls’ stories. At one point, Carmen admits that she is the one who “cares the most,” so it makes sense that she is the one to introduce the story. She is the one who holds the group together.