Monday, June 7, 2010

The Girls From Ames - A Review

Red book.

I was recently fortunate enough to be asked to read and review The Girls from Ames by Jeffrey Zaslow.   You might recognize the author's name if you also read The Last Lecture, as Jeffrey Zaslow and Randy Pausch were coauthors on that book.  To begin, I will give you a little information about the book, taken from the site
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.
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.
I can honestly say that I truly enjoyed reading this book.  The chapters were well divided, which made it easy to take a break and return to the book when I had more time.  As the book began I thought that there would be chapters about each girl individually.  While several girls were highlighted, I appreciated that the author didn't try to give each girl a feature chapter.  Obviously, some of the girls have had lives that were more eventful or at least events in their lives that were more central to the theme of female friendships.  Another aspect of the book that I really appreciated were the statistics presented to demonstrate how strong female friendships can really improve your quality and length of life. 

In terms of how this book made me feel, there were times while I was reading that I loved the girls and times that I really didn't like them at all.  Regardless of how I felt about each of the girls, through it all I still wanted to know what would happen to them and what they would do next.  I found myself sad when they were going through difficult times.  I asked myself what I would say or do in the different situations they experienced.  I was angry with them when they were mean or insensitive.  Unfortunately, I haven't ever had a good and stable group of girl friends, so I couldn't really relate to their experiences.  I did feel a bit jealous while reading this book.  It made me want to try to reconnect with past friends or work harder to make some new ones.   It is definitely a book that will make you think about your current relationships with other women in your lives.  Perhaps you will begin to appreciate your friends even more, or perhaps you will be motivated to find and become a better friend yourself.

*Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


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