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

3.36  ·  Rating details ·  11,196 ratings  ·  2,009 reviews
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
Hardcover, 297 pages
Published April 21st 2009 by Gotham (first published January 1st 2009)
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3.36  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,196 ratings  ·  2,009 reviews

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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
Apr 28, 2009 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Mar 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: every woman
Shelves: reviewed
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
Mar 14, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Mar 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
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.
Lisa 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 i
Nov 28, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommended to Sara by: Review or ad somewhere
Shelves: 2009, non-fiction
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 ...more
Aug 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Mar 17, 2009 marked it as to-read
Shelves: not-owned
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.
Jun 03, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: human-behavior
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 ...more
Sep 04, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: bookclub-read
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
May 06, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: cannonball-read
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
Alethea A
May 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: girls and women everywhere, and anyone who would like to understand us
Recommended to Alethea by: Borders. good on you.
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
Mar 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
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
Aug 05, 2010 rated it liked it
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
May 21, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Feb 25, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: biography-memoir
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 ...more
Jul 07, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Sep 07, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. I really enjoyed reading about the girls and them growing up in Ames.
May 28, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2009
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
Sep 10, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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 ...more
Jul 24, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Jun 15, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-non-fiction
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 ...more
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 ...more
Oct 24, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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 ...more
Aug 01, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Jul 25, 2010 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Megan Lambert
Oct 03, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Canada Snyder
Jun 08, 2009 rated it did not like it
I really didn't think this book was all that great. I think i had a difficult time getting past the fact that these girls were the "mean girls" in school. Also, many of their friendships seemed to only be on the surface. what was the author's point in writing this book? that was not very apparent because there are many friendships i can think of that are deeper, have lasted longer etc...I felt like it was sort of cliche because he was talking about a cute story from the these frie ...more
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Through his Wall Street Journal column and bestselling books, Jeffrey Zaslow has told the stories of some of the most inspirational people of our time.

The Last Lecture, written with Randy Pausch, has been translated into 48 languages, and was #1 on best-seller lists worldwide. Five million copies have been sold in English alone, and the book has remained on The New York Times best-seller list for
“Here's what we'll do. We're going to keep you at the end of our fishing line. And if you ever need anything, you just give a little tug and we'll reel you back in.” 8 likes
“They believed their friendships thrived because they had raised some expectations and lowered others. They had come to expect loyalty and good wishes from each other, but not constant attention. If a friend didn’t return an email or phone call, they realized, it didn’t mean she was angry or backing away from the friendship; she was likely just exhausted from her day.” 1 likes
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