When I was younger, I looked upon groups of women having a good time in a public place with a certain amount of envy: although I’ve had close female friends since high school, until fairly recently most of my friendships had been one on one and I often felt uncomfortable in groups. So I was very curious to read The Girls from Ames: A Story of Women and a Forty-Year Friendship by Jeffrey Zaslow, the extraordinary true story of a group of 11 women friends who met in childhood—mostly in preschool, kindergarten or first grade—and thus have basically been friends for their entire lives. Because these women are about my age, I was surprised that I didn’t identify with them more, but then I didn’t grow up in the Midwest, didn’t have a lot of friends in high school (nor was I popular) and don’t have children now. This didn’t stop me from enjoying this book, however. As Zaslow says in his introduction, he has set out to write “the biography of a friendship, meticulously reported,” and in this he has succeeded. Because there were so many “girls” (and I must admit I bristle a bit at this term), he necessarily focused on some of them more than others, but the stories they shared made me laugh and cry and cry some more. (I also developed a little bit of a crush on Marilyn’s dad, a pediatrician and “beloved figure in Ames.”) Stories of mean-girl behaviour, secrets and the loss of loved ones (including one of the girls) are interspersed with lighter stories of celebrity encounters, goofy behaviour and girl bonding in the next generation. Occasionally, the way Zaslow wrote about Kelly, the most outspoken (and nontraditional) member of the group, rubbed me the wrong way, but overall this was a fascinating look at a unique friendship.
Thank you to Penguin USA for sending me this book to review.
The Girls from Ames is on blog tour with TLC Book Tours in April and May. Visit these other blogs for reviews and giveaways:
Simply Stacie • Silver and Grace • chaotic compendiums • Rundpinne • Luxury Reading • Book Nook Club • Suko’s Notebook • Feminist Review • Bookworm with a View • Cafe of Dreams • Janel’s Jumble • Anniegirl1138 • Peeking Between the Pages • Life in the Thumb • lit*chick
Boarding in My Forties • Book, Line and Sinker • Mother Daughter Book Club • Nonfiction BookPage • Offenburger.com • Story Circle Book Reviews • Walking with Scissors Reviews
Would you like to win a copy of The Girls from Ames? Penguin USA has offered to send a copy to one of my readers. The giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only (no P.O. boxes). I will accept entries until 11:59 PM Eastern Time on Monday, May 17.
For one entry, please answer this question: How old is your longest friendship? Mine will be 28 years old in September: I met my best friend in grade 7 in September 1982. I also have several other female friendships that are 15+ years old.
If you are a follower or subscriber, please let me know and I will give you another entry.
Please be sure to provide me with a way of getting in touch with you. Entries without a blog link or email address will be disqualified.