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The Girls from Ames: A Story of Women and a Forty-Year Friendship

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From the coauthor of "The Last Lecture" comes a moving tribute to female friendships, with the inspiring true story of eleven girls and the ten women they became. Karla, Kelly, Marilyn, Jane, Jenny. Karen, Cathy, Angela, Sally, Diana. Sheila. Meet the Ames Girls: eleven childhood friends who formed a special bond growing up in Ames, Iowa. As young women, they moved to eight From the coauthor of "The Last Lecture" comes a moving tribute to female friendships, with the inspiring true story of eleven girls and the ten women they became. Karla, Kelly, Marilyn, Jane, Jenny. Karen, Cathy, Angela, Sally, Diana. Sheila. Meet the Ames Girls: eleven childhood friends who formed a special bond growing up in Ames, Iowa. As young women, they moved to eight different states, yet managed to maintain an enduring friendship that would carry them through college and careers, marriage and motherhood, dating and divorce, a child’s illness and the mysterious death of one member of their group. Capturing their remarkable story, The Girls from Ames is a testament to the deep bonds of women as they experience life’s joys and challenges — and the power of friendship to triumph over heartbreak and unexpected tragedy. The girls, now in their forties, have a lifetime of memories in common, some evocative of their generation and some that will resonate with any woman who has ever had a friend. Photograph by photograph, recollection by recollection, occasionally with tears and often with great laughter, their sweeping and moving story is shared by Jeffrey Zaslow, Wall Street Journal columnist, as he attempts to define the matchless bonds of female friendship. It demonstrates how close female relationships can shape every aspect of women’s lives – their sense of themselves, their choice of men, their need for validation, their relationships with their mothers, their dreams for their daughters – and reveals how such friendships thrive, rewarding those who have committed to them. The Girls from Ames is the story of a group of ordinary women who built an extraordinary friendship. With both universal insights and deeply personal moments, it is a book that every woman will relate to and be inspired by.


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From the coauthor of "The Last Lecture" comes a moving tribute to female friendships, with the inspiring true story of eleven girls and the ten women they became. Karla, Kelly, Marilyn, Jane, Jenny. Karen, Cathy, Angela, Sally, Diana. Sheila. Meet the Ames Girls: eleven childhood friends who formed a special bond growing up in Ames, Iowa. As young women, they moved to eight From the coauthor of "The Last Lecture" comes a moving tribute to female friendships, with the inspiring true story of eleven girls and the ten women they became. Karla, Kelly, Marilyn, Jane, Jenny. Karen, Cathy, Angela, Sally, Diana. Sheila. Meet the Ames Girls: eleven childhood friends who formed a special bond growing up in Ames, Iowa. As young women, they moved to eight different states, yet managed to maintain an enduring friendship that would carry them through college and careers, marriage and motherhood, dating and divorce, a child’s illness and the mysterious death of one member of their group. Capturing their remarkable story, The Girls from Ames is a testament to the deep bonds of women as they experience life’s joys and challenges — and the power of friendship to triumph over heartbreak and unexpected tragedy. The girls, now in their forties, have a lifetime of memories in common, some evocative of their generation and some that will resonate with any woman who has ever had a friend. Photograph by photograph, recollection by recollection, occasionally with tears and often with great laughter, their sweeping and moving story is shared by Jeffrey Zaslow, Wall Street Journal columnist, as he attempts to define the matchless bonds of female friendship. It demonstrates how close female relationships can shape every aspect of women’s lives – their sense of themselves, their choice of men, their need for validation, their relationships with their mothers, their dreams for their daughters – and reveals how such friendships thrive, rewarding those who have committed to them. The Girls from Ames is the story of a group of ordinary women who built an extraordinary friendship. With both universal insights and deeply personal moments, it is a book that every woman will relate to and be inspired by.

30 review for The Girls from Ames: A Story of Women and a Forty-Year Friendship

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    I'm reading this purely because my sister DESPISED it and I have to know why. Oh. My. Gosh. I rarely read books that I can't understand how they were published. I usually can see some audience for it or some purpose they fulfill. This book, however, is just dreadful. It had to be published solely on the author's reputation for The Last Lecture, because no self-respecting publisher would agree to print this. I read this because my sister needed someone to make fun of it with her, and I foresee it I'm reading this purely because my sister DESPISED it and I have to know why. Oh. My. Gosh. I rarely read books that I can't understand how they were published. I usually can see some audience for it or some purpose they fulfill. This book, however, is just dreadful. It had to be published solely on the author's reputation for The Last Lecture, because no self-respecting publisher would agree to print this. I read this because my sister needed someone to make fun of it with her, and I foresee it as a punchline to many jokes in the future. Here's what makes it so awful: The writing is RIDICULOUSLY bad. Honestly, probably some of the worst writing I've ever experienced. It's completely saccharine and overly folksy. He even stoops to write, while one of the girls is commenting on a joke that the only good thing to come out of Iowa is I-35, "I-35, and of course, the girls from Ames." UGH!!!!! It's like he has a crush on this group of women and is trying to kiss up to them. He also frequently ends a paragraph with phrases like "So that's why she made that choice", or "so that's how she knew it was the right thing." Who writes like that once you get past junior high? Probably plenty of people, but they don't become PUBLISHED AUTHORS. There is no rhyme or reason to the organization of the book. Why do some of the girls get full chapters, and others are barely mentioned? Why randomly insert a brief story about their fear of having to kiss a black boy during a game of Spin the Bottle and the "racial and sexual tension" they felt, and then never bring up race again in the entire book? He certainly wants to make Ames into something really formative to the girls, but the reality is that they all left after high school and don't have much connection with it anymore. There's little to make this narrative distinct to Ames, but the author clearly wants to think that there is because he pounds the Ames angle over and over again. And there's nothing about it that makes it interesting. The writing isn't skilled enough to evoke a wonderful sense of place, and therefore all the places mentioned are just meaningless and boring. The women in the book may be educated, funny, smart, kind, and wonderful, but you'd never know it by the writing. Sometimes the author would mention that one of them had a Ph.D. or something else really notable, but their achievements are barely touched on. I was actually a bit surprised that they went to college because he makes them all seem completely shallow and only interested in drinking in cornfields. I thought at first that I just don't have anything in common with them, and they represent the kind of woman that annoys me, but I think the fault lies with the author. There is no sense of the depth of these women, and he often focuses on really terrible, catty things they do. And why do we want to read about women that were considered cliquish, and even turned against one of their own members? (Can you imagine being the woman who disliked them in high school, being contacted by a reporter who is writing a book about the people that excluded you for a book about friendship? Lame.) I know that friendship is a complex thing, but I didn't get that there was anything significant or remarkable about this group. Which brings me to... WHY ON EARTH IS THERE A BOOK ABOUT THESE WOMEN?!?!?!?! NOTHING HAPPENS!!! Absolutely anyone could have a book like this written about them and their friends. I could write a book about my childhood friends and call it "The Girls from Tempe" and it would be just as compelling. I could write a book about my current group of friends and call it "The Girls from Bloomington" and it would be a billion times more interesting. We all want to believe that we are significant and we "all have a story to tell", but sometimes it's good to realize that's just not the case. It's like hearing about someone else's family jokes, and they're totally not interesting or funny. Most of us don't have lives that deserve a book. However, with a better writer, I think these women probably could have had an interesting book written about them. They certainly have experienced some tragic events, but so has everyone else. Therefore, the writer needs to trick you into wanting to know about them. I've read memoirs about the sad things that very often happen to regular people (divorce, death, illness, etc.), but they seem interesting because the writer adds to it through the writing itself. Jeffrey Zaslow isn't good enough to pull that off. I hated this. HATED. I would never have picked it up on my own, and I hated every moment of reading it. I hated that the author wanted to believe that the phrase "the girls from Ames" meant something, like they were the only women the city had produced or like they had done anything significant. Instead, we're presented with a book full of boring personal memories about people we don't care about in a place we don't care about, and are told it will speak to women everywhere. Please.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lt

    When I heard the author and two of the subjects on NPR I immediately bought a copy, wondering if I would know any of the "girls." I was living and working in Ames in 1981 when their class graduated from Ames High, and sure enough, I immediately recognized one of the main characters, and had connections with the families of others. Reading the book was much like the odd dislocation that Walker Percy describes in The Moviegoer when surprised by a scene on screen that is familiar in real life. That When I heard the author and two of the subjects on NPR I immediately bought a copy, wondering if I would know any of the "girls." I was living and working in Ames in 1981 when their class graduated from Ames High, and sure enough, I immediately recognized one of the main characters, and had connections with the families of others. Reading the book was much like the odd dislocation that Walker Percy describes in The Moviegoer when surprised by a scene on screen that is familiar in real life. That said, Zaslow is a columnist and this is a story that needs the skills of a novelist. You can't build character by simply piling on anecdotes, and he is hampered by a lack of source material (and by an inexcusable lack of research--no evidence that he visited their old haunts or even read their yearbook), an inability to recreate a sense of place or time, what appears to be cursory interviews with a broad number of sources, and his core experience, a reunion with the main subjects in North Carolina, where there is no connection with their common roots. While the cast is not exactly War and Peace, it is difficult to keep the characters straight, an experience not aided by the author's determination to use just first names. Was Kelly the feisty one or the sassy one--no that was Cathy, or was it Karen or Karla? The fuzzy pics on the cheesy paper used in the original edition are not a plus. You do learn a bit -- who knew that Brad Pitt was "a pleasant-but-not-especially attractive journalism major at the University of Missouri"? Or that Hollywood hair dressers have a code of not gossiping about their clients--except when someone is writing a book about the friendships of 11 Iowa girls and apparently needs to spice up the flagging narration with a flurry of name dropping. This is not to take away anything from the 11 original friends or their admirably deep and lengthy friendships, but if you're looking for an equally deep explanation of such relationships, you'll not find it here.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sfdreams

    I have wanted to read this book for a long time, so was very excited to win an advance reading copy on Goodreads. The book did not disappoint! I read it in a day and a half—I couldn’t put it down. I debated whether to give this book 4 or 5 stars, and finally decided to give it five stars, since I felt like this book would stay with me for awhile. Read the blurb about the book on Goodreads—I won’t repeat the information, and it gives a good overview of the book. I was born seven years before these I have wanted to read this book for a long time, so was very excited to win an advance reading copy on Goodreads. The book did not disappoint! I read it in a day and a half—I couldn’t put it down. I debated whether to give this book 4 or 5 stars, and finally decided to give it five stars, since I felt like this book would stay with me for awhile. Read the blurb about the book on Goodreads—I won’t repeat the information, and it gives a good overview of the book. I was born seven years before these women (yup—do the math—I turn 53 later this year!), and I was born in Indiana, another “corn” state, so I could relate on many levels with these women. I also grew up in a university town, Bloomington—home of Indiana University. However, I believe Ames might be a smaller town than Bloomington—at least it appeared to be when I was there when my niece by marriage was wed there several years ago. This book made me cry at points and laugh out loud at times. It was written in an easy-reading style that made me feel as if I was there. The only parts where I felt the presence of the author was when he quoted statistics about friendship. I wished the book had pictures of the women—I wanted to look at their pictures as I was reading the book. Perhaps the finished copy will include photographs—I hope so. If not, go to www.girlsfromAmes.com. Photos of the girls then and now are posted there, along with a video presentation set to what sounds like Rod Stewart singing “If Not for You.” I tried and found aspects of myself in the women, although no one woman reminded me of myself totally. Probably the closest fit is Sally, spiced with bits of Karla, Jane, Marilyn and Kelly. I did not have a group of friends like they did, however, and the longing and envy I felt was overwhelming. I always had one or two very good friends at a time throughout my childhood through college and into adulthood. I regret that I have not kept in better contact with my old friends from grade school and junior high—this book makes me want to reconnect with them. However, we are very different people than we were then, and although we still care for one another, we never seem to find the time to get together anymore. One of my friends from grade school (actually her father and my father were friends!) lives in Bloomington again as well, but our lives seem to keep us from getting together. I last saw her at my cousin’s funeral several years ago, and I mostly just get “hellos” from her when my Dad sees her at WalMart. I have three very close friends today (four if you count my partner). I consider them more like family than friends. Two of them I met as an adult. The other was the best friend of my little sister, and I knew her from grade school on. We did many things together when I was in college (and they were in high school) and lived together in a cooperative dorm room my last year of college. She and I ended up going into the same profession, and trained the same year, so we actually became friends ourselves. One of my pet peeves in reading books is the number of typos and grammatical errors that slip through. Even though this is an uncopyedited manuscript, I only found two minor typos: a word that obviously should have been “scared” by the context was printed as “sacred” and once when a small word (I think the word “in”) was dropped. If there were more, I didn’t catch them. Very impressive in this day and age of spellcheck!! If you’ve made it this far into the review—Thank you! I didn’t mean to write this much, but I really loved this book, and I think you will too! I only hope there will be a follow-up book in about ten years so that I can catch up with their lives again. (Are you listening, Jeffrey?)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Huh?? How is this book popular!? It was poorly written, uninteresting, and shallow. I know that is harsh, but I would truly add this to a "10 most disliked books" list if I had one. There are books I don't like, but I can see why other people do. This does not fall into that category. It was awful. I didn't grow to care about the women in the book at all, and again, the writing made me want to throw it in the garbage. I'm not familiar with Zaslow's articles for the WSJ, and perhaps he is good at Huh?? How is this book popular!? It was poorly written, uninteresting, and shallow. I know that is harsh, but I would truly add this to a "10 most disliked books" list if I had one. There are books I don't like, but I can see why other people do. This does not fall into that category. It was awful. I didn't grow to care about the women in the book at all, and again, the writing made me want to throw it in the garbage. I'm not familiar with Zaslow's articles for the WSJ, and perhaps he is good at that style of journalism. But he is NOT a memoirist, as this book clearly demonstrates. The first chapter is overly precious, describing the girls as though they were one fabulous entity. I hoped it would get better once he stopped talking about them collectively. It didn't. What's more, I hated that he wrote about the parents with no rules as "progressive" and "realistic," and used phrases like "they knew that..." instead of "they felt that..." or "they believed that..." to describe the best way to deal with teenagers. Parents with rules were described as "square." In fact, the author's feelings on many social issues are injected into nearly every page of the book. But the biggest annoyance was that it was just plain BORING! Why do I care about these women? How are these women different or more interesting than any random person I've ever met? They were actually more boring. How is that possible in a book? I had just come off of reading "The Middle Place" which was a far more compelling memoir (for its writing), and gave me plenty of reasons to care about the characters, even if I didn't always LIKE the characters. "Glass Castles" is even better. I highly recommend SKIPPING this one. Dull.....

  5. 4 out of 5

    Leigh

    The Girls from Ames is a great story. There are few women who could read this book and not be a little jealous of the love and support these ten women have provided each other for decades. Female friendships are truly unique, and the girls from Ames have graciously opened theirs to the world. This book is an honest look at both the joys and the heartache, the laughter and the tears. I truly enjoyed this book, and in turn value my own friendships that much more.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lisa (not getting friends updates) Vegan

    I was able to borrow this from a long distance friend (thank you Terri!) who won it from Goodreads First Reads giveaway program. It’s an advance readers’ copy, paperback, 317 pages. I’ve grown addicted to ARCs since joining Goodreads, my preference being to read actual to be published copies sufficiently ahead of the official publication date. Except for the front cover, there are no photos included so I’m very glad my friend included information about the web site http://www.girlsfromames.com/ i I was able to borrow this from a long distance friend (thank you Terri!) who won it from Goodreads First Reads giveaway program. It’s an advance readers’ copy, paperback, 317 pages. I’ve grown addicted to ARCs since joining Goodreads, my preference being to read actual to be published copies sufficiently ahead of the official publication date. Except for the front cover, there are no photos included so I’m very glad my friend included information about the web site http://www.girlsfromames.com/ in her review. There are at least some photos there, and I printed them out and referred to them as I read. When I read memoirs, it really helps me to see photos and not have to imagine people’s appearances. This is one book I might have appreciated more if I’d not read an ARC. I hope the hardcover first edition copy is full of photos, of the 11 girls but also of their family members and others in their lives. I wasn’t enamored of the format of the book at first. It was difficult for me to become acquainted with each of the eleven girls when so much was written about their relatives and ancestors, but I eventually saw the wisdom of the author’s decision to write the book this way. Although it took me longer to remember each of them, it was a richer experience once I was able to do so. Also, it turns out I was most interested in some of the peripheral people. I was most deeply touched by the story of Christie, the first child born to any the Ames girls. (This book was only a 3 star book for me until that part. I continued to enjoy the book more and more all the way through the postscripts.) I also really liked Marilyn’s father. Elwood Koelder, who was connected with Marilyn’s brother, was an interesting story line. A few of the events that happened in the most recent past were of most interest to me. I had mixed feelings about these individuals and their group. They are ten years younger than me but, possibly given they came of age in the small town Midwest and I in a big city on the west coast, they seemed old fashioned, albeit racy. I ended up liking some more than others, but liked some aspect of each of them, although they felt sufficiently different from most of the friends I have that it was a slight stretch to think of being friends with any/most of them. Also, as I got further and further into the book I understood the friendship(s) better. When their friendships were forming, I’m sure these girls would have considered me extremely backward and I would not have been welcome in their group. Reading this book is bound to make women and girls think about their female friendships. I am lucky to have a few continuing overlapping groups of women friends from my childhood/adolescence/early adulthood, made all the more precious to me because of my lack of family. My groups consist of no more than four each and the most intimacy comes from the one on one relationships. I am somewhat in awe of these 10-11 women staying in contact as they have, especially considering geographical distance, families, their differences.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jennie

    I have very mixed feelings about this book. I wanted to like this book. I really, really did. However, the writer was a man and while that shouldn't be a problem, it kind of was for this book. Maybe a different man would have done a better job, but honestly, there was too much bewilderment from the author coming through the narrative. If I had to make a guess about this author, I'd guess that he likes and respects women, but is one of those men who find women to be an "other" some kind of un-und I have very mixed feelings about this book. I wanted to like this book. I really, really did. However, the writer was a man and while that shouldn't be a problem, it kind of was for this book. Maybe a different man would have done a better job, but honestly, there was too much bewilderment from the author coming through the narrative. If I had to make a guess about this author, I'd guess that he likes and respects women, but is one of those men who find women to be an "other" some kind of un-understandable creature. And if this book had really embraced that perspective and tried to use these women to help other men understand women it probably would have been more honest to the author and frankly, a better read. I'm sure that it doesn't help that the author is a columnist. The book felt like a REALLY long colunm. Like he had no idea how to structure the story he wanted to tell or create any drama or anticipation. So, while my feelings about the writing are pretty clear, my feelings about the women and their story are more complex. I'll be honest, I haven't had a group of girlfriends since I was a kid. I have girlfriends. They are wonderful and supportive and have become my pseudo-siblings. But they aren't a group. At this point, most of them have met each other, but I am friends with each of them pretty much independently of others. This fact may make me just totally unable to relate to the women who are the subject of this book. However, I like to think of myself as able to stretch and relate to people with different experiences from myself (I am a social worker after all), and I sincerely hope that this isn't what my problem was. First of all, I had a terribly hard time keeping the women straight. I had to refer back to the photos at the front of the book all the way until the end of the book. This is supremely unusual for me. Seriously, I read King novels (I love him, but damn does he like to have a huge cast of characters) and fantasy books with maps and geneologies in the front. Now, I don't want to say that the real women from the book are indistinguishable because I'm sure that if I interacted with them in person they would be wonderful individuals. However, the characters were not presented in such a way that I was able to differntiate one from another. Secondly, the way the book was organized contributed to my inability to really keep them straight. I love a good flashback in a novel, but in this book it just annoyed the shit out of me. Frankly, I couldn't figure out what the organization was. It wasn't chronological, although it was vaguely chronological. It wasn't set up by "girl", although each chapter had a kind of focus on a particular woman. Basically, it was frustrating. And there was no surprise or suspense as to what happened...I mean the first pages with photos and info gave away the two deaths in the book. And, in the interest of being totally honest...well, some of these women did something that I HATE. In fact there was a significant minority who did it. They went to college and then decided to become stay at home moms. Yea, I know. Don't shoot me. Don't leave nasty messages. I HATE this. I know that as a feminist I should support any career/family decision that women make. But I don't. I judge, I'm human. So many of these women went to college and then chose to be stay at home moms. Its a life path that I have NEVER understood. It seems really selfish and indulgent and retro in a bad way to me. In any case, it was a decision that a lot of the women in the book made. It made me not like them as much as I wanted to. However, what this book did do well was show real realttions between real women. They didn't always get along. They frequently disagreed. They were sometimes self-involved. But they were always presented as being real people. And more importantly, despite their challenges, they loved and supported each other. It was a really good depiction of what happens to women's friendships as they age and move away from each other. All in all, it was an interesting concept for a book. It just didn't live up to its potential.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    3.5 stars. Written by the co-author of The Last Lecture, which is why I think this book drew my attention in the first place, The Girls from Ames chronicles the friendship between eleven girls from (where else?) Ames, Iowa, from their childhood to adulthood today. The story is definitely inspiring, hearing how these women have managed to create and maintain such strong bonds of friendship. There are stories from when they were young, stories from when they were in high school, then college, and 3.5 stars. Written by the co-author of The Last Lecture, which is why I think this book drew my attention in the first place, The Girls from Ames chronicles the friendship between eleven girls from (where else?) Ames, Iowa, from their childhood to adulthood today. The story is definitely inspiring, hearing how these women have managed to create and maintain such strong bonds of friendship. There are stories from when they were young, stories from when they were in high school, then college, and then as adults, when they are career- or family-focused. The author intersperses the narrative about their friendship with some studies and statistics about friendships in general, mentioning how friendships between women that have lasted until they're 40 years old are statistically likely to last for the rest of their lives. Since the book is about eleven women whose friendship has lasted for multiple decades, there is obviously not enough room to tell the story of every little thing they went through together, and so the focus is on particularly major events in their lives. Some of the stories were not the most flattering, showing the darker (and less appealing) side of girls that can sometimes crop up (both in their circle of friendship and with outsiders who resented their clique); however, the majority of the stories were about instances where they helped each other through tough situations, such as illness, divorce, and death. It was really nice to read about how their bonds with each other helped and the ways they offered support. Now, for my complaints. I was glad that the author included a "cheat sheet" near the beginning, with the girls' names, photos, and a short bio, helping me keep them straight. There were eleven main characters - not including the girls' family members - and it took me a while to remember who each one was. I also felt like some of the girls were given a lot more page time, as many of the stories focused on their lives, while a few of the girls were barely mentioned. After finishing the book, I feel like I have a good sense of the lives of maybe half the Ames girls; the others remain a mystery, despite their inclusion in the tale overall. Finally, although I enjoyed reading the book, it felt like something was lacking, though I can't put my finger on it. The story of friendship was nice, but I'm not sure the book overall provided a reason for the importance of focusing on these particular women. Maybe I just wanted to see something more, like there was room to delve deeper that was ignored. I'm glad I read this, and I certainly enjoyed it, but it's not one that I'd reread.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    Ever since I read The Magic Room: A Story About the Love We Wish for Our Daughters and The Last Lecture with Randy Pausch I have wanted to hit the backlog of Jeffrey Zaslow and read more that he's written. You can just tell that he is a compassionate man, who tells a story with such feeling, whether it be about women or men. I was saddened to hear of his death in a car accident this past February. I've had The Girls from Ames: A Story of Women and a Forty-Year Friendship. Eleven women that forme Ever since I read The Magic Room: A Story About the Love We Wish for Our Daughters and The Last Lecture with Randy Pausch I have wanted to hit the backlog of Jeffrey Zaslow and read more that he's written. You can just tell that he is a compassionate man, who tells a story with such feeling, whether it be about women or men. I was saddened to hear of his death in a car accident this past February. I've had The Girls from Ames: A Story of Women and a Forty-Year Friendship. Eleven women that formed an amazing bond and this man, Zaslow, who wanted to tell their story. It's to Zaslow's credit that he can capture the bindings of female friendship and infiltrate their group, gain their trust, and be if not, one of them, at least, a friend. At the beginning and throughout the story, Zaslow, in staccato fashion, calls out their names, KarlaSallyKarenDianaJennySheilaJaneAngelaMarilyCathyKelly and tells their stories of how they were able to maintain and remain friends all these years. It's amazing to me that eleven kids, who mostly met in kindergarten, are in their 40's when the book is written, are able to overcome the hurtles of hurts, spites, petty jealousies, who said what, who did what, and grow into women that live in all corners of the US, still manage to meet every year or so, pick up where they left off, and continue to share memories like they were still in Ames. Though not all is sunshine and rosy, you come away with a darn good feeling and wish you were part of this group. It renews my respect for womanhood, and the power of friendship. It reminds me to be nurture the friendships I have and to continue to seek out the company of women.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    This came up as a "featured book," on my page; it's probably just coincidence that it's about my hometown! Not necessarily a book I'd go for otherwise, but I have to read anything about Ames. This came up as a "featured book," on my page; it's probably just coincidence that it's about my hometown! Not necessarily a book I'd go for otherwise, but I have to read anything about Ames.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    First let me say, I expected to like this book much better than I did. Therefore I was shocked when half way through I was ready to give it 2 stars and quit reading it. However, it was for a bookclub, so I decided to finish it and the last half was better and worth 3 stars. So I guess my true rating would be 2.5, but I will round up this time. The main thing I didn’t like about the first half of the book was how clickish and judgmental the girls were in high school, towards other girls and each First let me say, I expected to like this book much better than I did. Therefore I was shocked when half way through I was ready to give it 2 stars and quit reading it. However, it was for a bookclub, so I decided to finish it and the last half was better and worth 3 stars. So I guess my true rating would be 2.5, but I will round up this time. The main thing I didn’t like about the first half of the book was how clickish and judgmental the girls were in high school, towards other girls and each other. One story that struck me right away in Chapter 1 was about Angela’s late arrival to the group. “She wasn’t part of the group right away, because the nerdier girls at school had quickly befriended her. Angela knew that she was being embraced by those in need of a friend, and she was OK with that at first. But she was cooler than those more desperate girls.” I couldn’t help but feel a shock of sorrow for those girls who had tried to befriend Angela at first; they just seemed so callously portrayed—whether by the girls or the author I wasn’t exactly sure. Another event that exemplified their sometimes cruelty was the “intervention” the girls held for Sally; basically they all got together for a sleepover and told her how she was too much of a wallflower, didn’t like the way she dressed, and that she needed to generally be more fun. I admire Sally for how she handled the situation, but it did not make me sympathetic towards the group as a whole. A couple of other things made the whole book a bit difficult to follow: the fact that there were so many girls names to keep straight and the writing. While I have no doubt Zaslow is a good journalist, I agree with other reviewers that this book needed the touch of a novelist to delve into the deep meanings and ties of friendship. I felt like I was reading great anecdotes, but I didn’t ever really discover what held the girls so tight together. I did like the sociological information Zaslow provided (women who make close friendships are more likely to live longer, most women’s friendships are in danger between the years of 25 and 40, etc.) but it felt like he should have stuck with an article in the Wall Street Journal for that information. So, what did I like about the second half? Christie’s story as the first child of the girls was so deeply moving, I appreciated reading how the girls bonded together and supported each other through that situation and others, even so many miles apart. Also Marilyn’s discovery of Elwood Koelder and subsequent friendship was very touching. Overall, I related more to the girls shared experiences as adults, perhaps because most of my best friends are miles away and yet we have stayed close and supported each other through the rough times of adulthood as well. I think I would recommend this book if you can overlook how much emphasis it places on the girls exclusive click in high school and appreciate that such an amazing friendship between 10 women has lasted thirty years.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Exactly what makes a good book a good book? How is it defined? Do we base it on an inspiring writing style? Or something that leaves you with a message sunk deep into your bones? Or is a good book something that has stood up to the passing years, surviving fads and unpopularity? I suspect that critics and lay people have been debating this since the advent of the printing press, but I only bring it up because I am unsure of how to judge this particular work. I’m referring to The Girls from Ames Exactly what makes a good book a good book? How is it defined? Do we base it on an inspiring writing style? Or something that leaves you with a message sunk deep into your bones? Or is a good book something that has stood up to the passing years, surviving fads and unpopularity? I suspect that critics and lay people have been debating this since the advent of the printing press, but I only bring it up because I am unsure of how to judge this particular work. I’m referring to The Girls from Ames , a book that follows 11 girls from Iowa during a journey of growth and friendship. Jeffrey Zaslow, the author, has created an odd work. He’s a columnist and it shows in the book, which really can’t be defined as a novel or a collection of stories. It is really just a column that runs 320 pages. This is where my difficulty with the book comes in. Zaslow, though an entertaining and gracious person (he wrote a really nice message in my book, so I’m required to say that), seems out of place writing as a stand-in for a group of women. Unlike his book co-authored by Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture , Zaslow doesn’t disappear into the stories. In fact, it’s incredibly awkward to the reader when he repeatedly uses the word “cute” to describe the women as children or their corresponding actions. Cute is a word that the women may have used in their interviews, but it sounds awkward in prose, especially prose that comes from a man’s pen. If I just based my judgment of this book on the writing, I would probably end my review here with some curt punctuation. Yet, I have trouble doing that. Zaslow’s book made me think back on my old childhood friendships, ones that formed in day care, high school, camp, and college. I never had a bevy of friends, but I always had one or two from each group that I would consider real “friend.” The rest were just acquaintances. Now, at 24, I find myself in NYC for almost a year and feel terribly alone. It’s my own fault—I neglect my friends terribly. Out of sight, out of mind. If I don’t see them everyday, I forget to make contact, find myself too lazy to return calls, and generally fall off the face of the planet. The Girls from Ames made me feel that loneliness and guilt more than ever. The internet has made friendships easier than ever, yet still I’m lost in a vacuum. That’s why I can’t decide whether this is a good book or not. Do I keep my opinion totally style-based? Well, then it’s a piece of garbage. Or do I judge it based on its affect on me? That would make it a perfectly reasonable read and a good use of my time. Regardless of my final judgment, I’m going to use this as an impetus to get off my ass and start being a friend again.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Alethea A

    I didn't think I would like this book half as much as I did. I am not a non-fiction reader; I like my non-fic in magazine-article doses, preferably out of Entertainment Weekly. Better yet, just give me a list, just the top ten. I found myself keeping a finger stuck between the pages that show the Girls' photos, and every time something in particular about their story resonated for me, I'd flip to the front and look at the Girl or Girls in question. I felt myself wanting to know them, to look the I didn't think I would like this book half as much as I did. I am not a non-fiction reader; I like my non-fic in magazine-article doses, preferably out of Entertainment Weekly. Better yet, just give me a list, just the top ten. I found myself keeping a finger stuck between the pages that show the Girls' photos, and every time something in particular about their story resonated for me, I'd flip to the front and look at the Girl or Girls in question. I felt myself wanting to know them, to look them in the eye. Through this book, in an infinitesimal way, you can meet them. I say infinitesimal because you and I cannot have the 40+ year history they have with each other. You had to have been there. But I am so glad for this peek into their lives and the friendship they share. In a way, they offer a glimpse into understanding myself. Jeff Zaslow, you've got balls to venture into this territory. ^_^ Great writing, and I can't imagine how excruciating the research into this emotional minefield must have been. A woman at my store told me she did not think this book would appeal to her 16-year-old daughter and left hurriedly before I could reply. Any girl who has had a friend, or wanted one; any girl who has had a sister, or wanted one; any woman who knew her mother or daughter well, or never knew her at all, or wished she knew her better; any girl who has ever felt alone and needs to know she isn't or doesn't have to be, can relate to and enjoy this book. I didn't think it would appeal to me (not being an upper-middle class Midwestern housewife) but I have been all of these girls at one point or another. From childhood crushes to familial heroes, from mean-girl intrigues and girlfights to crying sessions and group hugs, from courtship to marriage--I've been at some of those same intersections of life. And I can see the first blips of other life milestones of theirs that I will pass too: career changes, motherhood, maturity, illness, and all the grief, joy, and beauty that is to come. Thanks, Girls. I'm looking forward and backward at the same time.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Monika

    update: finally got a chance to sit down and read, and finish this book. overall, it was a great great read, and made me wish that growing up i had so many girlfreinds who would stand by me regardless of anything. Sure they disagreed sometimes, but overall, they we're the true epitamy of best friends. Great, great read! SO glad i got this as a first reads! update: So I started the book last night, and put it down @ page 140 because it was really late, and I had to get to bed---otherwise I think I update: finally got a chance to sit down and read, and finish this book. overall, it was a great great read, and made me wish that growing up i had so many girlfreinds who would stand by me regardless of anything. Sure they disagreed sometimes, but overall, they we're the true epitamy of best friends. Great, great read! SO glad i got this as a first reads! update: So I started the book last night, and put it down @ page 140 because it was really late, and I had to get to bed---otherwise I think I would have kept reading it. I do like this book. I think the stories about the friends are amazing, and I know the feeling of being separated from close girlfriends. The stories bring back memories from my own childhood, even though I grew up in a big city. The one issue I have with the book is that it is written too "journalistically" and not like a "story teller" would tell a story. There are points where I caught myself thinking, why is this side story about a completely different person in here, when I have 11 charachters to already keep track of!" but once I just let it go, and read the book for what it is, I could appreciate the book more. I think this is a book I am definately going to give my future daughter, so that she can realize eary on how important true friendships are, and how regardless of how different you may be, or how you grow in different ways in life, that your true friends will love you for who you are regardles... ----- just won this book as a firstreads! this really looks like an inspirational book, with the plot about the freinds who get through their lives together--even though they are physically apart, living in different areas...I can't wait to jump into it!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mandy

    I thought this book was an interesting idea, in concept. It was a quick, easy read. It would be good for a book club book or for a group of girls who have or appreciate long lasting friendships. In my opinion the stories of the women and the sociological reflections by the author were often jarring and not seamless. Sometimes you felt like you were reading an email, other times you felt like you were reading a textbook. I also had a difficult time getting into the writing. I come from a school of I thought this book was an interesting idea, in concept. It was a quick, easy read. It would be good for a book club book or for a group of girls who have or appreciate long lasting friendships. In my opinion the stories of the women and the sociological reflections by the author were often jarring and not seamless. Sometimes you felt like you were reading an email, other times you felt like you were reading a textbook. I also had a difficult time getting into the writing. I come from a school of creative writing that preaches showing vs. telling. And the author did a lot of telling. Its understandable did a lot of telling because he was... wait for it... telling a story. He was reporting. It was journalistic, socioligical studying in nature. I get it. I just can't dig it. I really really wanted to love this book. Perhaps if I had a core of girlfriends from the age of kindergarten onward I would have appreciated it more. I did enjoy, as I said before, the concept of the book, the relationship of the friends and all they'd been through. I also found connections with specific women in the book. I guess, in short, I thought the book was a gimmick. While the author meant everything he wrote about the importance of female friendships, to me it is to "on the nose" an attempt to create a book for female friends, book clubs, Oprah. Call me cynical. I would however reccommend this book to friends who enjoy the likes of Eat, Pray Love, books that combine anectotes with studies, etc. I will say the book did make me appreciate the friendships with family that I have. My family was my first friends and I've had them forever!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    It has taken me many months to read this. I read a little of this book at a time in between novels because it just wasn't compelling enough to hold my attention. I'm not much of a non-fiction reader, but having spent the first 12 years of my life in Ames, I was intrigued by this book. Sadly, it is not very well written, and I was also a little turned off by what these girls were like as teenagers (though I think I'd like most of them as grown women). I realize that many people lacked good sense a It has taken me many months to read this. I read a little of this book at a time in between novels because it just wasn't compelling enough to hold my attention. I'm not much of a non-fiction reader, but having spent the first 12 years of my life in Ames, I was intrigued by this book. Sadly, it is not very well written, and I was also a little turned off by what these girls were like as teenagers (though I think I'd like most of them as grown women). I realize that many people lacked good sense as teenagers, but I've never had much patience for that (nor for the adults that then assume that their own teenagers have to act in the same stupid ways---as if stupid teenagers are inevitable). What I enjoyed most were the few memoirs of Ames that struck a sentimental chord for me (like mentions of Boyd's Dairy). I was too young to know the girls in the story, but I did know one of their dads, Dr. McCormack, which made the story even more personal. That being said, I felt that too much attention was lavished on the doctor in this book; he seems to have been a great man, but this book shouldn't be about him. And too much attention was given to Kelly (one of the "girls") and her opinions. This book may worth reading if you are from Ames and were born in the 60s or late 50s, or if you are from any small town and have maintained close friendships with friends from your youth. It is heartwearming to read how these girls managed to maintain connections to such an extent that they are able to provide support to one another throughout their lives.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I didn't finish this book. I read about half of it, and was interested in the stories of the eleven friends who make up the group and how they got together when they were chldren and became "the Shisters." (That's a moniker I'll leave the book to explain, and I got tired of reading the vulgar word that led to the group name.) I was also interested in the author's insertion of results of studies that have researched friendship and how they compared to this group of friends. As they left high scho I didn't finish this book. I read about half of it, and was interested in the stories of the eleven friends who make up the group and how they got together when they were chldren and became "the Shisters." (That's a moniker I'll leave the book to explain, and I got tired of reading the vulgar word that led to the group name.) I was also interested in the author's insertion of results of studies that have researched friendship and how they compared to this group of friends. As they left high school and their stories became individual (with some descriptions of planned or unplanned reunions), rather than the stories of a group of "girls," I lost interest. I also sometimes felt like a voyeur, wondering why these friends would share such intimate details of their lives with the author--even stories they may not have shared or discussed with anyone in the group--and I wondered why I cared to read about those stories. Not for me, although I really liked the author's earlier work on The Last Lecture.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    I was thinking I'd like this book a lot more than I did. Women and friendship sounds good. I think having a male author made this a more clinical read--I never really cared about the women as characters or individuals. And I was annoyed by the repeated statistical asides "Of course the girls should be concerned about (insert blank), because 40-60% of baby boomers will experience (insert blank) by this year, yada yada yada." Another thing that bugged--too much Kelly. I guess he focused on her beca I was thinking I'd like this book a lot more than I did. Women and friendship sounds good. I think having a male author made this a more clinical read--I never really cared about the women as characters or individuals. And I was annoyed by the repeated statistical asides "Of course the girls should be concerned about (insert blank), because 40-60% of baby boomers will experience (insert blank) by this year, yada yada yada." Another thing that bugged--too much Kelly. I guess he focused on her because she was liberal, single, and feminist. Why are women only applauded as feminists when they have careers (like men)? When will society value the work that goes into raising a family? Isn't that feminist too?

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    3.5 stars. I really enjoyed reading about the girls and them growing up in Ames.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rhonda

    OK, maybe it's really a 2.5 stars...somewhere between it was ok, and I liked it. Wall Street Journal comumnist sets out to write a story on "the deep bonds of women as they experience life's joys and challenges---and the power of friendship to triumph over heartbreak and unexpected tragedy." The author sorts through stacks of notes, letters, photos, scrapbooks, articles these 11 "girls-now-40-somethings" provided, along with phone calls, visits, etc., he even spent a weekend with them at their lat OK, maybe it's really a 2.5 stars...somewhere between it was ok, and I liked it. Wall Street Journal comumnist sets out to write a story on "the deep bonds of women as they experience life's joys and challenges---and the power of friendship to triumph over heartbreak and unexpected tragedy." The author sorts through stacks of notes, letters, photos, scrapbooks, articles these 11 "girls-now-40-somethings" provided, along with phone calls, visits, etc., he even spent a weekend with them at their latest reunion...all to discover their good times, rough times, and how they stuck together through them all, and how that could benefit other women of all ages. The book was more his story-telling than his deductions on friendship, but it was still interesting. I expected more "reflection" and what he learned from it all.... Some quotes: (the few statements in the book that are reflective) regarding Kelly's daughter's interest in the periodic reunions of these women: "She plans to tell Liesl the specifics of the weekend---where they went for dinner, how they went for hikes, the sort of conversations they had until early in the morning. But those are just the particulars. What Kelly really hopes Liesl will pick up in her retelling is a feeling of how deep the bonds between women can get. She's not sure what exact words she'll say, but Kelly the wordsmith would like her daughter to know this: Having these women in my world has meant not only acceptance, but radiant joy and laughter that knocks me right out of my chair. Through our darkest moments, we have lifted each other up. In every moment of grief we've shared, our laughter is a life vest, a secure promise that we will not go under." "In their forties, the Ames girls have discovered reasons why their relationships with each other often seem easier than someof thier relationships outside the group. Perhaps, they say, it is because over the years, they have come up with unspoken or barely acknowledged ground rules that seem to work. They don't brag about their husbands' jobs or incomes. They talk about their children's achievements, but not in a gloating way. They root for each other's kids, just as they root for each other. They make every effort to be with each other for key events in their lives: weddings, serious illnesses, funerals. If they have disagreements among themselves, if they have negative opinions about each other, if they have things that need to be hashed out, it all remains in the group. They don't go to their husbands with their complaints. They don't tell their friends outside the group. One upside of being in their forties, they girls say, is that they feel like they've grown beyond a lot of things. They're beyond a cutthroat kind of ambition, they're far less competitive, they've lowered their expectations of others, and they're learning to find satisfaction in just living. They're seeing what feels good: something as easy as just being together, talking on Angela's porch."

  21. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    Ugghhh. I so badly wanted to like this book chronicling the true friendship of 11 women spanning 40 years since I myself have experienced such female bonding. But alas, the book is so poorly written and shallow that I couldn't help but groan throughout. So obviously written by a man as he failed miserably at telling a good story nor capturing the complexity and depth of BFF's and frenemies. The writing was atrocious. Honestly, the worst I have ever seen. The author loosely (generous word) organiz Ugghhh. I so badly wanted to like this book chronicling the true friendship of 11 women spanning 40 years since I myself have experienced such female bonding. But alas, the book is so poorly written and shallow that I couldn't help but groan throughout. So obviously written by a man as he failed miserably at telling a good story nor capturing the complexity and depth of BFF's and frenemies. The writing was atrocious. Honestly, the worst I have ever seen. The author loosely (generous word) organized the first few chapters based on one of the women and then quickly abandoned that a third of the way through their names and then focused on events. The problem lies in the actual bones of the chapters where random stories, having little bearing on each other are sprinkled throughout. It kind of reminded me of reading a child's first attempts at writing an open ended story. One thought leading to another thought with little relationship in between other than the characters are all the same, who are all insanely boring and flat by the way. My life long friends' life stories have been and are still way more interesting than this pablum. I finished the book not really grasping what has bonded these women together so fiercely to travel across country regularly to keep in touch, in person, by email, by letter, and by phone. Obviously, the meat of their closeness has been painstakingly edited in order to portray them, their families, employers, and town in the best possible light at all times, then and now. Real events and personal qualities are merely hinted at. Careful is the word that comes to mind. The author was very careful with his wording, so obviously crossing the line to crushing on his new female friends that he dare not offend them by telling the truth. Zzzzzzz. I do understand the difficulty in being able to delicately expose 11 real women's lives and their interactions. However, if the author is incapable of fleshing them out then there is no need for the book in the first place. Barely scratching the surface of these women would have worked better in a feel good newspaper or magazine series. The only one with any depth was Kelly which I suspect was the only one honest enough to expose herself, fitting with her no holds barred personality. I honestly couldn't tell the rest apart. Out of 11 women, the only ones with a husband issue were the two that got divorced. How convenient. Out of 11 women, NOT ONE admitted to a mother issue. Total fantasy island. The phrase "mighty white of you gals" ran through my brain as I read each kiss ass rambling line that dissolved like cotton candy fluff in my psyche. I gave it 2 stars for the effort in attempting to capture the nature of female relationships in the first place and second, for the only time I felt any emotion other than sheer boredom, Christie's heartbreaking journey. That one brief passage however was not enough to warrant writing or reading this book though. Otherwise, it is saccharine sweet, folksy, and cloying. Now that that debacle is over with, time for me to start writing the riveting and scandalous "The Girls of Incarnate Word High School, San Antonio, Texas".

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    From my blog...[return]The Girls From Ames by Jeffery Zaslow is an in-depth and intriguing look at the social and behavioral traits that brought these particular eleven girls together as friends, maintained their friendships spanning decades, states, marriages, divorces, and even death. While they were a unit, each girl had at least one defined role. To fully understand the Ames girls, Zaslow takes an in-depth look at the beginning of each girl's family life and how their families impacted their From my blog...[return]The Girls From Ames by Jeffery Zaslow is an in-depth and intriguing look at the social and behavioral traits that brought these particular eleven girls together as friends, maintained their friendships spanning decades, states, marriages, divorces, and even death. While they were a unit, each girl had at least one defined role. To fully understand the Ames girls, Zaslow takes an in-depth look at the beginning of each girl's family life and how their families impacted their personalities. Of the eleven, only ten remain; although the women say when they get together, Sheila is with them in spirit. The girls are different enough to make their group interesting, and they credit their willingness to talk and listen to each other for their long friendship and admit in their 20s and 30s they had a difficult time connecting, which holds true with the science behind friendships. According to the study in this novel, women have the most difficult time maintaining friendships between the ages of 25-40, after which friendship suddenly rates higher. The Ames girls discuss their children, especially their daughters. Current research indicates today's girls will be life-long dieters, have distorted body images, and be scarred by cliques. The Girls From Ames is an intriguing sociological look inside a group of women who forged deep bonds as young children, forged their friendship by junior high and maintained and strengthened their friendships through time and distance, marriages, births, and divorces. I found this book to be an intriguing look at the social science of friendships, being of the same age group, I do not think I would have been friends with many of these girls, however, I did find it interesting that the McCormick's had a summer house on the same lake my family did, and briefly pondered whether I ever met any of them. All in all it is an intriguing sociological study on friendship and I would recommend The Girls From Ames to anyone interested in the social sciences of women and friendship.

  23. 4 out of 5

    David

    The setting is a long-weekend reunion of the 10 surviving (of 11) women from a tight group of lifelong friends from Ames, Iowa. Nothing much happens at the reunion, so that functions mostly as a scene-setter for flashbacks and commentary about their lives and friendship. The book was a mixed bag for me. On the minus side, it's poorly edited -- repetition is unwelcome when the subject is interesting (e.g., dying words of the one who died young from a possibly drunken fall) and indefensible when th The setting is a long-weekend reunion of the 10 surviving (of 11) women from a tight group of lifelong friends from Ames, Iowa. Nothing much happens at the reunion, so that functions mostly as a scene-setter for flashbacks and commentary about their lives and friendship. The book was a mixed bag for me. On the minus side, it's poorly edited -- repetition is unwelcome when the subject is interesting (e.g., dying words of the one who died young from a possibly drunken fall) and indefensible when the subject is boring and a questionable inclusion even once (the motive for one of them to go back to work as a starbucks barista was the family health insurance benefit). Relatedly, it's poorly organized -- a chapter per "girl" for a while and then switches to loose themes such as relationships with men, loss, being in one's 40s etc. Would have worked better I think to use one or the other scheme throughout. Finally, it's poorly written -- author seldom trusts you to draw a conclusion from the action or dialogue but instead hammers home obvious points along the lines of "not every girl always felt close to every other one or agreed with all her decisions, but as a group they were always there for each other". Many of these points are followed by non-amazing generalizations from social science research about sex differences in friendship patterns etc. Redeeming the book, for me, was the underlying content. Actual stories from their lives about marriage, having kids, career decisions, high school memories, illness (two have breast cancer; one had a daughter die of leukemia), middle age infirmities, and so on kept me turning the pages. Probably helped that they are just a couple years younger than I am, and I have remained in touch with several close friends since 8th grade, so the "hey, me too" response kicked in fairly often.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

    I picked this up at the library thinking it was fiction, however, it is the true story of a 11 girls from Ames, Iowa who became close friends in elementary school and despite the fact they are spread out all over the country are still extremely close friends in their mid-forties. Interspersed with the details of their lives are passages about studies which show that a close group of female friends is one of the contributing factors to being healthy, happy and living a long time at least for wome I picked this up at the library thinking it was fiction, however, it is the true story of a 11 girls from Ames, Iowa who became close friends in elementary school and despite the fact they are spread out all over the country are still extremely close friends in their mid-forties. Interspersed with the details of their lives are passages about studies which show that a close group of female friends is one of the contributing factors to being healthy, happy and living a long time at least for women (doesn't seem to matter for men whose friendships are of an entirley different matter). Marriages even work better because women have someone other than their husbands to vent to and for emotional support, which again, we know women are better at than men. It also seemed to be important that these be very long term friendships not ones made in adulthood. What depressed me reading all this was that I had such a group of girlfriends in elementary school and I can well imagine we would have continued that way through high school and on til today. In fact, I've reconnected with some of them via email and facebook in the last year. However, at the end of my 7th grade yeare we moved and then I changed schools every year or two until college so was never able to reestablish friendships. Oh well, one more thing to blame my parents for... (just kidding sort of).

  25. 4 out of 5

    Diana Bogan

    What is remarkable about this story is not the individual trials and tribulations that these women face in their own lives. And it isn't even really the fact that a woman can have such a deep and meaningful bond of friendship with another woman. What struck me as remarkable - astonishing really- is that a group of 11 women can share such a deep friendship that transcends the group as a whole. And more, sustain it. Having not grown up in one town my entire childhood, I can't conceive of this bein What is remarkable about this story is not the individual trials and tribulations that these women face in their own lives. And it isn't even really the fact that a woman can have such a deep and meaningful bond of friendship with another woman. What struck me as remarkable - astonishing really- is that a group of 11 women can share such a deep friendship that transcends the group as a whole. And more, sustain it. Having not grown up in one town my entire childhood, I can't conceive of this being a common occurance. Sure I have reconnected with old friends and made new friends but no one has been around my whole life to know me like the Ames Girls know each other. I only have that bond with one of two biological sisters! Anyway, the book left me wondering if this is unique to the generation of the women in the book, especially when I don't see my own daughters making tight bonds in their early childhood. I wonder if our digital connectedness will help my daughters continue to grow friendships if and when we move from the only place they have lived so far. Overall I enjoyed the book. I enjoyed getting to know the women, their stories and taking a retrospective look at my own friendships.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rhonda

    I just finished this book and then read some of the reviews. I agreed with most of them, that the underlying story of these mid-west enduring friends is wonderful. Their stories made me laugh and cry. I grew up near where they lived and a few years ahead of them. I never knew any of them, but their stories resonated with me. I still have a group of friends from grade-school through high-school who keep in touch with cards, facebook and e-mail. We don't get together near as much as the girls in t I just finished this book and then read some of the reviews. I agreed with most of them, that the underlying story of these mid-west enduring friends is wonderful. Their stories made me laugh and cry. I grew up near where they lived and a few years ahead of them. I never knew any of them, but their stories resonated with me. I still have a group of friends from grade-school through high-school who keep in touch with cards, facebook and e-mail. We don't get together near as much as the girls in the book do, but when we do, our lives merge with sharing lifetime memories and catching up, continueing conversations like we never stopped talking and laughing. I also, however, agree with a lot of the reviewers who say that this author's writing was nearly painful. He spends too much time on some stories, and nearly no time on others, he jumps back and forth, sometimes rehashing stories that should have been resolved the first go-around. He over-describes some things and changes styles a couple of times, starting with giving a chapter each to a couple of the girls, (which I truly enjoyed), then abruptly stopping that, to writing in a more broad coverage which was bumbling in my opinion.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Emi Bevacqua

    My mom always told me she chose to go to Ames, Iowa for her spring break, and I never heard anything more wholesome sounding; I read a glowing review of this book, and its subtitle is A Story of Women & a Forty-Year Friendship. The subject matter is fine (a group of 11 childhood friends who remain tight through adolescence and beyond, despite obstacles like distance and differing viewpoints); it's just the delivery that I find fault with. The writer Jeffrey Zaslow, is a Wall Street Journal colum My mom always told me she chose to go to Ames, Iowa for her spring break, and I never heard anything more wholesome sounding; I read a glowing review of this book, and its subtitle is A Story of Women & a Forty-Year Friendship. The subject matter is fine (a group of 11 childhood friends who remain tight through adolescence and beyond, despite obstacles like distance and differing viewpoints); it's just the delivery that I find fault with. The writer Jeffrey Zaslow, is a Wall Street Journal columnist. I guess I learned I should stick to books by New York Times-esque writers (I remember not liking that Elephants Graveyard book written by the Economist journalist either). This Zaslow guy was just so needlessly wordy, like I'd plow through a whole paragraph describing a family portrait: each family member's posture, position, physical description, hair styling, clothing... only to turn the page, and see the freaking photo for myself - ARGH! He seemed to think being a guy writing about a group of lifelong female friends was a good gimmick, but I think it was a miscalculation. He kept trying to tell me too much about stuff I inherently know.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jo

    Enjoyed it. Made me think of my own girlfriends and our history and how blessed I am to have so many long term friends throughout the different facets and time periods of my life. It also made me realize some of the hurtles we've yet to face. I was touched at many points during the book, but it could maybe have been organized better or the characters could have been introduced in a more memorable way. I did find myself flipping back frequently to see who was who again. Of course, organizing the Enjoyed it. Made me think of my own girlfriends and our history and how blessed I am to have so many long term friends throughout the different facets and time periods of my life. It also made me realize some of the hurtles we've yet to face. I was touched at many points during the book, but it could maybe have been organized better or the characters could have been introduced in a more memorable way. I did find myself flipping back frequently to see who was who again. Of course, organizing the lives and friendship of 11 women into one book must be a monumental task, so I feel the need to be a bit forgiving. Lastly, I thought it was sweet that this was written by a man trying to understand women and their friendships and, ultimately, what motivates us as a whole because he wanted to understand his 3 daughters and wife. Getting the information from this perspective did give me a reminder of what amazing creatures we are and how necessarily different we are from our male counter parts.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    I picked this book up, not realizing it was non-fiction. But something about it drew me in, and I found myself absorbed in this true story of 11 friends, and all that they have been through over the years, while still maintaining their nearly 40 year friendship. Yes, it's sappy, and yes, there are some tear-jerking moments. But in reading it, I found myself thinking about my own friendships and wishing I had friends as close as these. It's almost inevitable that you'll find yourself comparing you I picked this book up, not realizing it was non-fiction. But something about it drew me in, and I found myself absorbed in this true story of 11 friends, and all that they have been through over the years, while still maintaining their nearly 40 year friendship. Yes, it's sappy, and yes, there are some tear-jerking moments. But in reading it, I found myself thinking about my own friendships and wishing I had friends as close as these. It's almost inevitable that you'll find yourself comparing yourself with one of the girls, or remembering situations like some of the ones they had been through, or thinking about your own friends, past and present. There were some flaws in the book, however. It seemed like some of the girls were favored over others... with 11 girls, maybe it was expected that some would get short shrift, but it seems as if each girl was an integral part of the friendship as a whole, so it was somewhat disappointing to come out of it feeling as if I "knew" some of the girls better than others. Maybe the girls wanted it this way, but it was still disappointing.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Megan Berta

    Blah. The first half was okay; the second half I couldn't even complete, as I was bored to tears of hearing the authorm chatter on about the ordinary day-to-day trials of life as a woman, mother, friend, and wife. There was nothing special about these women, save a life-long friendship, and most of the book was spent in details I already have to listen to my coworkers drone on about on a daily basis. At least that I am getting paid for. I enjoy a good people story IF it is inspiring/original/cre Blah. The first half was okay; the second half I couldn't even complete, as I was bored to tears of hearing the authorm chatter on about the ordinary day-to-day trials of life as a woman, mother, friend, and wife. There was nothing special about these women, save a life-long friendship, and most of the book was spent in details I already have to listen to my coworkers drone on about on a daily basis. At least that I am getting paid for. I enjoy a good people story IF it is inspiring/original/creative... which this book was none of. This may sound like a harsh review, but if you can read 4/5th of a book and have no desire to labor through the other 1/5th just to call it complete, then it is surely no more than 1 star in my book.

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