By Dick Haws
"THE GIRLS FROM AMES."
When I first heard about this new book that's got Ames all aflutter, I thought: "Oh, no, Playboy has been here and our young ladies will be featured. Be still my heart." I even worried the centerfold might be one of those young things I coached years ago in third grade softball.
Never mind. Despite the title, I'm betting Ames will brag about "The Girls from Ames." At least most will. I can already see "The Girls" on Oprah, talking it up, laughing it up, using the Kleenex.
This is going to happen because "The Girls from Ames," which will be arriving in bookstores later this month, details the true story "“ that's non-fiction, folks "“ of 11 women, now in their 40s, who grew up in Ames. While none still live here, several still have relatives here.
The book's complete title is, "The Girls from Ames: A Story of Women and Friendship." I'd be surprised if it doesn't become a best seller. The author, Jeffrey Zaslow, knows best sellers. He is the co-author of another book you probably recall, "The Last Lecture," which told the story of a young academic who was dying of pancreatic cancer and gave a last lecture at his university, Carnegie Mellon. He died in 2008. That book rose to Number One on the New York Times' bestseller list.
"The Girls" happened like this. Zaslow, when not writing books, is a columnist for the Wall Street Journal. One of his columns told about the success women have in forging and maintaining long-term relationships with each other. The contention is that women are better at this than men. One of these Ames women read the column, e-mailed him about her group, and the rest is history.
The Ames women have stayed in touch for all these many years since high school. Zaslow apparently spent a god-awful amount of time interviewing each of them, talking to them about their recollections of Ames, their boyfriends, their catfights, their husbands, their marriages, their children, their lives, everything. The whole nine yards. One pre-release reviewer said she felt like a voyeur at times.
I'm not expecting to read the book. It's chick lit, after all, which doesn't appeal to me. Nor am I interested in suffering through the bouts two of these women had with breast cancer and the death of another. It's just too much. But it might be just your thing.
Zaslow will be speaking about "The Girls" on April 23 at 8 p.m. in the Sun Room in the Memorial Union. You should mark it down. Get there early because it's going to be packed — and bring your Kleenex.