I was asked to read and review Jeffrey Zaslow’s best-selling book, The Girls from Ames because I grew up in Iowa. Ames is in Iowa. It’s near dead center of the state, about an hour from the city of Des Moines, where I lived for twenty years, and the home of my late husband’s alma mater – Iowa State University.
Ames is also the site of Mary Greeley hospital where Dee was conceived in a petri dish and where many of the Ames Girls were born. Of course, they were born, grown and mothers, most of them, long before I ever needed to venture to Ames.
Lisa, of TLC Book Tours, thought I might have a unique perspective on this quasi-memoir that follows the friendship of a group of girls from near infancy to middle-age. Well, I am middle-aged and from Iowa. I also was a child in the 1960’s and a teen in the mid to late 1970’s. Like the women in the book, I navigated the murky career, relationship and social waters of the 1980’s when much was expected and little was offered by way of advice from those who came just before us.
And I found myself nodding a lot because many of the girls reminded me of girls I knew and of situations that were (and still are) common when growing up female in North America.
But the Ames girls were people I would have known of but not been friends with myself. They were – as my seven-year old would say – “a clique” and a fairly exclusive one at that. Pretty, popular, financially privileged, they moved in circles that were off-limits and invitation only. Unless you were a girl like that yourself, your knowledge was based on rumors and hearsay, so it was interesting to know that they angsted like the rest of us and were unsure and actually got into trouble when they deserved to.
Zaslow discovered the Ames girls via a column he writes for The Wall Street Journal. He spent time with them and writes their memoir in a one girl at a time style that manages to chronicle all eleven of the women through to their mid-40’s. I could have done without his commentary or the tidbits he throws in about studies on this or that girl or woman issue because the stories themselves are much more interesting, and women in general don’t need to be told what our issues are.
The book is 360 pages with an updated Afterword, but is a quick, engaging read.
Below is a list of other reviews, you might want to check out or you could check out an earlier sneak peek review I wrote in March, and you can read an excerpt here.
Jeffrey Zaslow’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Wednesday, April 14th: Simply Stacie
Thursday, April 15th: Silver and Grace
Friday, April 16th: Chaotic Compendiums
Monday, April 19th: Rundpinne
Tuesday, April 20th: Luxury Reading
Wednesday, April 21st: Book Nook Club
Thursday, April 22nd: Suko’s Notebook
Monday, April 26th: Feminist Review
Tuesday, April 27th: Beth’s Book Reviews
Wednesday, April 28th: Bookworm with a View
Thursday, April 29th: She Reads and Reads
Friday, April 30th: Book Blab
Monday, May 3rd: Cafe of Dreams
Tuesday, May 4th: Janel’s Jumble
Wednesday, May 5th: Anniegirl1138
Thursday, May 6th: Peeking Between the Pages
Monday, May 10th: One Person’s Journey Through a World of Books
Tuesday, May 11th: Life in the Thumb
Wednesday, May 12th: lit*chick
4 thoughts on “The Girls from Ames – Review and Observations”
Hi Annie.. forgive me for the long delay in getting over here! It’s interesting what you wrote: women in general don’t need to be told what our issues are. I wondered how it would play, this social commentary on a women’s friendship coming from a man. Interesting. I’m glad you found the book quick and engaging. Thanks so much for being on the tour!
This was one of our book club selections this year. We decided it was kindof like reading about any group of friends from anywhere who had been friends for a long time. “Engaging” might be a little much–nothing out of the ordinary happened and reminded me a bit of high school. It is a long–yet easy read. Plus if you are from the Midwest, you might enjoy the story more.
“Engaging” in that it doesn’t take much to be able to identify. I agree that the women haven’t led extraordinary lives. The only thing that makes them a bit different is the sheer number of them who have stayed so close over such a long period of time. That is not typical of our generation or ones who have followed, though who knows how social media will change that. Could be that future generation of girls will be even more in touch and involved.