Sep 29, 2009

The Girls from Ames

The Girls from Ames by Jeffrey Zaslow

My rating: 3 stars for the writing, 4 stars for the story

Quick overview: This is a non-fiction story about eleven women who met as girls in Ames, Iowa, and 40 years later (!) are still friends and stronger than ever. Zaslow takes you through the story dealing with childhood, puberty, marriages, divorces, births, deaths, laughing so hard you can't stand it, and moments so moving it takes your breath away. Meet Karla, Kelly, Marilyn, Jane, Jenny, Karen, Cathy, Angela, Sally, Diana, and Sheila.

My book club decided to read this and I would definitely recommend reading it with someone. There's a lot you'll want to talk about and it makes you appreciate your girlfriends. The story in itself is awesome - these women have been through so much and I found myself relating to things I've never even had experience with.

What I love most about their story is that it's real. This is non-fiction. These women exist. They've been through incredible joy and unbearable sorrow, but they're still here living and enjoying life. To me that's a better than any character in a novel.

There are definitely pros and cons about the author of this book. One of my friends in the book club mentioned she just keep wondering how this book would be different if a woman wrote it, not a man. I can see both sides of this. For instance, the author is a journalist, which means the writing is more concise than that of a novelist, and because he looked at this as research at times, he pointed out some interesting things. For instance, he made a really good observation about women's friendships being based in emotion and "face to face" time, whereas men's friendships are based more around activity, so their relationships are more "side by side."

However, because he is a journalist (and yes, a man - they pick up on things different than women do), the writing is very straight forward - and at times seems like fact reporting. I remember reading a paragraph about two of the women talking to each other about something important going on in one of their lives and I got angry because I could tell this was a huge moment in their friendship and he was writing it like a book report. There are times while reading this book where I had to put it down because the writing irritated me, and I didn't pick it back up for several days. However, the story of these women kept drawing me back in.

I'm going to end with something Zaslow said when all the women were together for an event because I absolutely love this concept of friendship.

"But in that moment...they saw clearly that true friendship means a willingness to share both joy and complete despair."

(Photo: elseachelsea)

2 comments:

Nicole said...

I recently read a non-fiction book by a journalist, and the writing style was what really threw me off. I just can't quite get into that style for long periods of reading.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

This is on my 'to-read' list. Waiting for it to come out in paperback... guessing it might have already but I am not going to check because then I am going to want to buy it!!

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