Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Book Review: The Girls from Ames

While on vacation last week, I read two books: The Shack and The Girls from Ames. I highly recommend both! I have a lot to say about both, but one book at a time :)
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On September 1st, one of my best friends from high school got married. I was honored and excited to be part of her special day. She gave each of us girls the book, The Girls from Ames, and a bottle of wine as a thank you gift. After reading the book, I can't think of a more thoughtful or fitting gift that a bride could give her girlfriends. Or for that matter, a friend could give a friend.

Instead of trying to describe the book in my own words, I'll just share below an excerpt from the book's website.
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.
While reading the book, so many relationships came to my mind, and not just my own friendships, but those of my mom and my mother-in-law.

While reading, I of course thought about my childhood/college friends and what our relationships are like today. The book actually made me feel a little bit better about how those friendships are not what they used to be. I learned, that it's natural (especially for woman) for friendships to evolve in your twenties and thirties. Life gets so busy when you start college, careers, get married and start families. I'm lucky to have a handful of friends, who totally get this. Even though we don't talk as much anymore, their friendship still means so much to me! Reading the book has made me want to be more intentional about nurturing those friendships and making sure they last a lifetime.

I also thought about my mom's relationship with her friend Jill. They've been friends for as long as I can remember, and she was always like a second mom to us. I've always thought their bond is special. They can go weeks without talking/seeing each other and then just pick up right where they left off, as if no time had passed at all. I hope twenty years from now, I have my own Jill :)

The group of people the book remind me most about is my mother-in-law and a group of her girlfriends. I don't know them all that well, but I've heard stories ;) I don't even really know how they all became friends (I should ask), but I know they were friends through out college, and they still get together for girl's weekends even though they're spread all over the state of Michigan. I get the sense that any of them, would do anything for one of the others. I remember talking to my MIL one day while she was making arrangements for an emergency girls weekend. One of the girls was having a hard time, and it had been decided that she needed than just a phone call or email. She needed them in person. I don't remember when that was, but it's stuck with for awhile. I just thought it was so cool, that they were willing to rearrange their plans on short notice and drive a few hours, to be with a friend.

The book is truly a testament to the power of female friendships. The book will make you laugh and cry. It's such an uplifting story, the perfect read to bring a little light into your life. You should read it!

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