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The Girls from Ames: A Story of Women and a Forty-Year Friendship Hardcover – April 21, 2009

3.5 out of 5 stars 251 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Jeffrey Zaslow is a Wall Street Journal columnist and, with Randy Pausch, coauthor of The Last Lecture, the #1 New York Times bestseller now translated into forty-one languages. Zaslow attended Dr. Pausch’s famous lecture and wrote the story that sparked worldwide interest in it. The Girls from Ames also grew out of one of Zaslow’s columns. He lives in suburban Detroit with his wife, Sherry, and daughters Jordan, Alex, and Eden.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham; First Edition edition (April 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592404456
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592404452
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (251 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #883,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Marilyn T. VINE VOICE on March 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What first drew me to this book is the fact that I had cousins in Ames, and all through my growing up years, spent time there. It was fun to see the names of places I recognized and, upon contacting my relatives, finding out that they were friends with some of the families mentioned in the book. The personal connection aside, I found the book well done and very interesting. The author writes a column for the Wall Street Journal called "Moving On", and one piece dealing with turning points in women's friendships yielded an e-mail from one of the "Ames Girls", telling about their group of 11 who had remained friends since childhood until now, in their forties. He decided to do a year-long study of that friendship which results in this book. We get a good look at each of the girls as they're growing up and as they become adults. Amazing to me is the diversity of these women and the fact that they could all stay close for this many years. That's the beauty of the book, and of the friendship. In spite of different life philosophies, political leanings, and careers, through thick and thin (and there are plenty of life crises among them), they are always there for each other, regardless of geographic distances. Whether physically, emotionally, or both, they are there. The author does a bit of comparison with men and their close friendships, and how they differ so completely from women's friendships. But this doesn't come off as a "study". It comes off as an accolade to these women, who have been so blessed to have each other.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In THE GIRLS FROM AMES, author Jeffrey Zaslow documents the backgrounds of a group of friends from Ames, Iowa. What's remarkable is the group's size, 11, and its longevity, more than 40 years. But what's not remarkable is the book. Zaslow manages to wring 316 pages of writing from interviews with, and conversations between, these women, and it reads like it has been wrung--from a dull topic. The women's relationships just aren't that interesting. Why? Is it the author's at-a-distance documentary style? The book's mundane topics? My thwarted expectation that I'd learn something new about friendship? I don't know. And it's not because I don't greatly value my own longstanding friendships. I rely on them.

Who might enjoy THE GIRLS FROM AMES? Men and women who live/have lived in Ames, people who enjoy reading about aspects of the agricultural Midwest, women's groups, high school classmates who are still friends several years after graduation.
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Format: Paperback
When I picked up this book I thought it would be the creative-non-fiction telling of 11 women's friendship. Instead, The Girls from Ames, is the journalistic account of these women's lives with a lot of statistics and studies thrown in for good measure.

At the beginning of the book, Jeffery Zaslow wonders if he is the right person to pen this account. I am still wondering. Zaslow is very detailed, but he is very much a man standing outside of this circle of girlfriends simply reporting what he observes. The author's lack of connectiveness prevented me from joining this group of gals as if I were one of them. I always felt like an outsider looking in.

Here is what I liked about this book:
1.I graduated from a high school in Iowa and attended Iowa State University in Ames around the same time the girls were in high school/college. I enjoyed identified with many of the places and events described.
2. I found how these friends supported each other through life's trails very touching and encouraging.

Here is what I disliked about this book:
1. I found the way it was organized to be very confusing. Many times I would have to reread a section to figure out who the author was talking about.
2. The journalistic writing style. The author told us a lot about these girls, but showed us very little. It was like reading a very long newspaper article.
3. I could careless about the various findings on friendships. These studies might be a revelation to a guy, but to us gals, this stuff is pretty obvious. The statistics just weighed the book down.

I am not sorry that I read this book, but I would have a hard time recommending it to anybody. The actually girls from Ames may be fabulous, but the book wasn't.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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