Oconee Regional Library

The Girls of Ames

Book Review Twenty-Six

May 10, 2009

In June, 2003, Jeffrey Zaslow, chose for his Moving On column in the Wall Street Journal, the subject of long term friendships among women. Zaslow wrote in part from a desire to better help him better understand his wife and daughters. He was overwhelmed by the number of emails he received in response. One person told about her grandmother's group of eight friends that had maintained contact since 1889. For three years, Zaslow left all of the emails untouched in a file cabinet. The one that stayed with Zaslow however was from Jenny, an assistant dean at the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine. She told him about her friendship with ten other girls who grew up in Ames, Iowa and still held reunions at least annually. Out of Jenny's email and the correspondence that followed in 2006, came Zaslow's book, The Girls From Ames. Books are essentially stories that are bound together in printed form. When you find a particularly good one, all of the noise around you ceases to exist. Even the quiet itself seems to deepen. The Girls From Ames is such a book. This is a book about an honest group of women with origins in agricultural America, who freely shared their real stories. It is this realness that captures and holds you as you turn the pages. Their stories are probably not unique but the bonds that have developed between them for over 40 years reflect the lives of others and creates a desire for friendship that is a willingness to share both joy and complete despair. Zaslow writes a fairly balanced picture of their lives, showing the group as an unapproachable clique in high school as well the instance when a misguided "intervention" deeply hurt one of the eleven. The love and compassion among all of the women in times of triumph and grief is their strongest quality. The Girls From Ames would be an excellent gift for Mother's Day and is certainly worth checking out at the Lauren County Library.

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