Sara's Reviews > The Girls from Ames: A Story of Women and a Forty-Year Friendship

The Girls from Ames by Jeffrey Zaslow
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Nov 29, 09

bookshelves: 2009, non-fiction
Recommended to Sara by: Review or ad somewhere
Read in November, 2009

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.
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