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THE GIRLS FROM AMES by Jeffrey Zaslow


A Story of Women and a Forty-Year Friendship

by Jeffrey Zaslow

Pub Date: April 21st, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-592-40445-2
Publisher: Gotham Books

An in-depth look at the enduring bond of friendship among a tightly knit group of middle-class Midwestern women born in the early 1960s.

Through his popular “Moving On” column in the Wall Street Journal, which focuses on transitions in women’s friendships, Zaslow (co-author: The Last Lecture, 2008) was introduced to the women featured here. The author briefly profiles all 11, but avoids an overcrowded portrait by focusing on four: strait-laced Marilyn, fun-loving Karla, outspoken Kelly and Sheila, whose death at 22 remains mysterious. The author spent time with them, looked at their photo albums, read their teenage notes and diaries, met their families and pored over the reply-all e-mails that have kept the group in close touch for the past decade. Zaslow also attended their annual reunion in 2007, an event he vividly recounts here. He records their happy reminiscences of high-school hijinks, their sometimes bittersweet recollections of adolescent misadventures, their connections with each other as their lives took separate paths and their continued warm support for each other as major events—marriages, births, divorces, deaths—impacted their lives. When breast cancer struck two of them in middle age, Zaslow shows the emotional help and encouragement they received from the others. Although his portrait of the group is mostly positive, he does not overlook the negative aspects of adolescent exclusivity, revealing how other classmates viewed them as a snobbish clique. Zaslow also reports briefly on research that has highlighted the difference between male bonding and female bonding, and the importance of friendship in the lives of women.

A heartwarming account, ripe for discussion in women’s book clubs and women’s studies classes.