Tell Us About Your Friends

We invite you to share your thoughts here on the Ames girls’ story, or to tell us about your own group of friends. (If there’s a follow-up project, we may be back in touch for more details. Thanks!)

Click here to share your thoughts.
(64) Julie
Mon, 11 May 2009 02:56:03 +0000

I am one of a handful of girls that met in either high school or college, and we are all turning 38 this year.

I bought this book solely because of the title. One of the two girls in our group, one of the two that I am closest with, will be moving to Ames this summer. She is leaving her friends and family here at "home" (Phoenix), and we are all so sad to see her go.

Thank you for writing this book. You proved to me that 1) Ames is probably a great place to live and raise daughters, and 2) best friends can be best friends across the miles.

I'll be purchasing a copy of this for each of us to read.

And I could have told you that we are all happier and healthier because of our long-lasting friendships. That is no surprise to me!

(63) Natalie
Sun, 10 May 2009 14:30:23 +0000

I grew up in Story City, Iowa just a few miles north of Ames, Iowa. I graduated from high school in 1980 with a group of close friends that I am grateful to have known. Jane, Patty, Robin, Toni and I would travel to Ames on the weekends for fun, driving behind main street Ames in the parking lots, bowling at Iowa State University and visits to Happy Joe's or Pizza Hut. When I saw this book advertised on Amazon, I immediately ordered it. I absolutely loved the book. Now I live in Maryville, Missouri, but I will always be an Iowa girl.

(62) Nicole
Fri, 8 May 2009 02:13:11 +0000

The Ames Girls remind me so much of my girlfriends & me! The book has been a roller coaster of emotions for me as I too am an "Iowa" girl and damn proud of it! I chose to move to Arizona years ago and have at times regretted moving from the best friends I have in central Iowa. I have been fortunate enough to find a handful of wonderful girlfriends in Arizona and one of them is even an Iowan! From early on I always knew my girlfriends would support me and guide me thru thick 'n thin (literally)! Although I am married with children, my girls are always there for me. As I turn 40 this year I feel blessed to still have a strong bond to my home in Norwalk and fondly remember all of the great girlfriends I have! There is no relationship in the world quite like that of a girlfriend. Here's to all my dear friends,(Kim, Beth, Jennie, Mikki, Phyllis, Rachelle, Michelle, Kristin) I am a better person because of all of you!

(61) Karen Jennings-Boland
Thu, 7 May 2009 00:04:41 +0000

Wow. Reconnecting with these girls from the past left me feeling oddly empty, like I had lost my friends as I closed the back cover.

I say "reconnecting", because I knew most of these girls. I graduated from Ames High in 1982. Strangely enough, two of the women both played meaningful roles in my own growing up.

The first was Jane. I was in math with Jane as an 8th grader in the 9th grade class. She is the only reason I managed to survive in that class. Not because of the content, mind you, but because of the context. I was an immature 13, really quite a nerd, which would have worked out fine had I chosen to run with the nerds. However, I was on the cusp of the "in" crowd, which made being such a dork so much worse! Jane saved me from that. She befriended me when I was in 7th grade. Her brother, Steve, was in the same class as my sister and we shared some other mutual friends. Actually, we both took somewhat of a beating from a mutual friend who was constantly trying to prove herself by belittling us! (She was one of 10 children and no doubt had to make her mark somehow) Anyway, Jane was my protecter in that math class with Mr. Black. The homework in the class was the first I had experienced that was more than just busywork, and Jane and I spent many evenings on the phone completing the assignments for the class. (It was the only time my parents let me break the "15 minute rule" on the telephone.) The following year Jane went off to high school with Marilyn and hooked up with the rest of the sisters. Somehow we stayed connected and she even had the good habit of sending me notes in the mail now and then. Maybe Jane did this with a lot of people, but I was sure that I was her special younger friend. I saved the notes she sent me through that year, and they came in handy when I started high school the next year. I became a part of the "BIG SIS/LIL SIS" program, and I remember Jane trying to convince me that Marilyn was the most likely person to be my big sis. She had me convinced, UNTIL she sent me about 15 notes one day, all on different notecards and stationary. With my expert detective skills I quickly pulled out my old letters from Jane and BINGO! I knew it was her. Who else could be so sappy sweet? I wanted to make Jane happy, so I played along, trying to pretend that I was completely befuddled about the identity of my big sis. And so came the "reveal" night. I remember little about the evening, except that at one point I was blindfolded. I probably did a really poor impression of a surprised person, but I was surprised by the gift Jane gave me. It was a gold chain with a charm on it. The charm had my initials engraved on it. I loved that necklace and lost sleep over it when I lost it over a year later. My relationship with Jane had grown more distant, but the memory of the bond with her continued to be meaningful to me.
That spring I encountered the second of the sisters close up and personal. I ran hurdles. This was an eye-opening and MIND-opening experience. Not because of the hurdles or the track activity, but because I came in CLOSE contact with Kelly. Kelly had actually been a neighborhood kid with me on Jewel drive when we were young and her brother had been in my class. But until that spring during track, I never really knew what Kelly was all about. That changed quickly! My nerdiness didn't stop Kelly and she quickly showed me the array of her emotions as we struggled to get over those darn hurdles in 3 steps. UGH! Kelly quickly taught me a thing or two, and not just about my lead leg or trail leg! Until I met Kelly, I really didn't believe that any high school girls really "got around"....and until Kelly I didn't really believe that I would have any interest in any girl who did "get around"! Then came Kelly! Wow. Reading the words on the pages of the book made me laugh out loud as I saw that Kelly had grown up to be none other than KELLY! It warmed my heart because the words so accurately described the girl who introduced me to the idea that French kissing might not be the worst thing a person could do. I SOOOO disagreed with some of Kelly's ideas and actions, and i SOOOOOOOO admired Kelly for being who she was!
The book made me laugh out loud as I read about Darwin, Greg, and Nancy Derks. (I played softball with Nancy and remember the rumbling that spring of the cake!) I also cried for Marilyn's dad, my first memory of a doctor (and no doubt my BEST memory of a doctor). I was challenged by Marilyn's trip to the library in Ames as I have contemplated searching out the drunk driver who killed my own father.
Wow. Thanks for this book. The depths of my emotions surprised me and as I closed the cover of the book, I smiled and remembered.

(60) Alane Fritsch Bartlett
Wed, 6 May 2009 05:33:22 +0000

I haven't read the book yet, but it is already bringing back memories of growing up in the 60's and 70's in a little neighborhood south of LaCrosse, WI at the foothills of Mt. LaCrosse ski hill. We were a unique group of kids, some going to Catholic schools and some going to public schools, but all sharing the same busride into the city.

We were all friends, I believe, with each other, even though it may have been during different stages of growing up. Sometimes you were "cool" and other times you would not be caught dead hanging out with certain people.

One of my fondest memories is Christmas caroling with all the different age groups of kids, no parents involved. Usually the gang ended up at Mrs. Mackies for hot chocolate and cookies.

Yes, a book could be written about our little neighborhood in the country, the shortcut thru the racetrack and the hangout at "the little store" across the dangerous highway. We've all gone our seperate ways, but every once in awhile we get a glimpse of one of the gang, when they come back to visit their childhood home.

I didn't realize how good we had it until I think about how my children grew up in the suburbs of the Twin Cities and did not have that unique experience I had.

If anyone from the neighborhood reads this, wouldn't it be fun to have a reunion sometime? I am an optimist, but I don't think it will really happen.

(59) Nancy Haukaas
Wed, 6 May 2009 04:54:50 +0000

The other day I was reading People. I am always looking for interesting books to read and People is my main source to find them. Immediately after reading the review I knew I had to read this story because this story is my friends' story, only we would call the book The Last Ladies of the 80's ( we graduated in '89).

My friends and I grew up in a small town of about 6,000 in Northern Manitoba, Canada. Some of us met in elementary school, junior high and by high school we were a tight knit group.A couple have chosen to go their own way but the ones who remain have laughed, loved, cried and celebrated many of life's most important moments together.Pictures of us together in our prime are so precious as are the stories that go with them. Many of the Ames girls pictures remind me of our pictures.Our group make sure we get together at least once a year to celebrate our friendship. On our 35th birthday year we went to Vegas. We are now planning something for our upcoming 40th.In between those milestones are evenings out,spa trips and weekend getaways.Many miles divide us, but the power of email and sending pictures keep us together. We actually just got back from a spa weekend last week!

My friendship with these girls have saved my life and sanity many times over the years. From high school heartaches,marriage and parenting advice,to health and beauty issues and the most important, just knowing someone out there cares for you not matter what. I literally could not live without them. These are the only people that knew me when I was just Nancy. Many people makes comments to us when we are talking about our friendship about how lucky we are. Believe me , we know! That subject always comes up in our conversations.

Thank you for reminding me how special the bonds of friendship and love can be. Thank you to my beautiful friends Shannon, DC, Leah, Sheryl, Karen O, Shelley, Myrna, Angela and Karen B. I love these girls with all of my heart and I always will.

(58) Sandra Rooney
Tue, 5 May 2009 18:59:42 +0000


I have a different story of important women friends. I am one of a group of six women, all but one retired now, who got to know each other when we worked together on a National Council of Churches committee during the 80s and 90s. Five of us had positions with the national offices of our respective denominations and one was Executive Director of the NCCC Education for Mission Program Committee. We came together several times a year to plan and develop mission study materials for use in US churches. We are United Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran and United Church of Christ. We worked hard together. We came to know and respect each other's denominational traditions. We learned to respect and trust one another as we shared leadership responsibilities. And we became good friends.

In 2004 we gatahered for a week in Williamsburg, VA. It was then that we realized that what we shared together was something special. Our global perspective, our international travel experiences and our commitment to the mission of the church gave us a special bond. And it was something that family and other friends didn't always understand or appreciate. We decided then and there to gather for a week every spring, which we have done--first in Lake Lure, NC and then Savannah, GA. Then we decided to do an overseas trip together. One of our number arranged a timeshare in Portugal and we spent a week exploring the Algarve. Last year we enjoyed a week in Sedona, AZ. In just a few weeks it will be Chicago. And in the fall of 2010 it will be Maine.

In between our face-to-face gatherings, email enables us to delight in the stories of grandchildren, eagerly await reports of travel experiences, support one another in times of illness or other problems and share the journey of our mature years as we continue to learn and grow and be active members of our communities.

(57) Francine
Tue, 5 May 2009 14:06:21 +0000

How fortunate to be able to relate to the women in this book! Made me feel sorry for women who don't have support systems like so many of us have been able to benefit from thru the years. My childhood friends and I often laugh that if we were to meet today we'd never be friends (the flower child throw back, the conservative, the plastic surgery queen, etc.). Fortunately - we met in a much simpler time....some in elementary school, some in middle school. From the time I wondered "wow - will that girl ever want to be my friend" (after all she had a cool shirt w/ mirrors on it)... to now. We left our homes in the morning - and in our section of town - where the streets were by one we'd pick the next girlfriend up at the next lettered street till "A" left us in front of our Jr. High. I'm amazed how our relationships have gone stronger despite the differences in our personalities/lifestyles. I'm convinced that it's because "we understand why we are the way we are". Nonetheless - 40+/- years later - we meet regularly for dinner, short adventures, constant emails. In fact after our 30 year hs reunion (which included a "sleep over")....we leveraged the world of technology to locate what Maria would refer to as "the lost boys". We have been so blessed to not only maintain our own friendships - but reconnect with so many others who understand what it was like to be us. To the girls in Ames....we were the "hang out at the park/bowling alley - NY suburn street" version of you. Our stories different - but no less as joyful/painful. We're now there to constantly support each other as our families grow, our parents age, marriage/divorce, success/failures and we come to except the women we've become.

I love the girls from Manorhaven and always will.

(56) tres patrick
Tue, 5 May 2009 01:14:53 +0000

I just finished the book. Boo-hooing down the street to let a neighbor and friend read it. I am fortunate it to have a few different circles like the girls from Ames, I was born in 1963 and could relate to so many things in the book. I have one friend that I've had since we were 4 years old. I've lived in 4 different states and we still remain friends today. I wonder sometimes whether or not we would be friends if we had met now. I don't know and it doesn't matter because we knew each other then and love each other still for all of our moles and sagging...everything. I have two other friends from high school that we periodically keep in touch. They remind me a youth, partying and the rock concerts. Then there are the dinner girls. 5 of us who met at work 25 years ago and though we are so very very different, we are bonded together. Unfortunately though, there was a major misunderstanding a year ago and a couple of us aren't talking. This book has brought that sadness back to me. Reading this book just brought it all back for me. It's about the silly stuff, the fun stuff, the marriages, illnesses, divorces, the shopping sprees, the times of silence, the tragedies the differences and the fact that our souls are just plain connected. The book/ their lives reminds all women of these things. I went out and bought 7 copies to send out this week. This book these lives, these women are a tribute to all women everywhere. Love and light to us all!

(55) Renee Swinney
Mon, 4 May 2009 18:35:17 +0000

I first heard of The Girls from Ames when my best friend was sitting on my couch reading my people magazine- after all- why should she buy People herself when she knows every Sunday she can stop by my house and read mine? Anyway, she said "have you heard of this book? It sounds just like us".

"Us" can be better defined as the Infinity Girls (the name taken from the Infinity symbol (or the number 8) tattoos we each got prior to one of our weddings)...8 girlfriends (some dating back to pre-k) who grew up in the suburbs of Minneapolis, MN. We have all managed to remain friends through elementary, Middle School, High School, College, Marriage, Kids, and divorce.

While the dynamics of our friendship has changed throughout the years as some of us went to the same colleges, others stayed home, some had babies early, others are now just starting their families. I moved to Houston, TX 13 years ago only to have my childhood friend from across the street join me in the south. The rest have remained in Minnesota.

I often have wondered how people who change and go in different directions can remain friends. After reading your book I realized it is not about whom we are today, it is who we were back then that made us best friends. I cherish this group of girls more than anything. People who do not have childhood friends they are still in contact with do not quite understand the connection.

I wish we could get together more often than we do. We had promised to make sure every 5 years we would all (no matter what) get together for a reunion trip. Our first reunion trip was in Chicago. It was July of 2006 and it was a celebration of all of us turning 30. Two of us were pregnant at the time and while one of us was unable to make it (illness) we brought along a paper version of her. Life sized- (kind of like flat Stanley) and made sure she was still in all the pictures with us. When we are together nothing else matters, silliness ensues and no matter the length of time gone between we resort back to high school girls gossiping and giggling. I so look forward to the next trip.

Anytime someone mentions us I get nostalgic so I knew I had to read this book. I ordered the book as soon as I could. I received it in the mail last Thursday. Because of children and work I have not made time to read a book in a long time. However, I decided to make this book a priority. I read this book in four days"¦I could not put it down. I cried several times throughout the story. I have already given the book to my friend here in Houston and once she is through the same copy will make its way to Mpls to be shared by the rest of us. I know that when my girls and I go through some of the things The Sh*t Sisters have endured we will all be there with open arms and open hearts.

You are all so blessed to have each other and I am in awe of your friendship and thoroughly enjoyed entering your lives. Thank you for allowing this book to be written! It is a touching story about the power of girlfriends!

(54) Anice Edmunds
Mon, 4 May 2009 18:09:03 +0000

Greetings, I just read the book in 2 1/2 days, and it was amazing. I cried 3 times and it made me consider the friends in my life. A couple weeks ago I had a life changing event at the age of 25. I have several blood clots in my one lung and my 3 friends prevailed to call me and to ask each week how I am, and also understand that I would do the same for them. They are a wonderful support system and I live an hour and a half away from 2 of them in Lancaster, PA. The 3rd friend lives in Kansas. I have not made any friends in Lancaster and its a terrible thing to not have friends where you live, since I've lived there almost 3 years. I can't imagine not having those friends to rely on when a hard day happens or to not be there when I was in the hospital for 3 days a month ago. The best thing any woman can have is women friends, no matter how many of them! I am going to recommend this book to all of my female friends and family!

(53) Kristyne Haver
Sun, 3 May 2009 13:27:03 +0000

I just had to buy the book yesteray when I saw it as I spent 15 years of my life in Ames. I came in 1974 at the age of 17 to attend Iowa State University and loved it so much I ended up staying there until my then husband's job took us to Florida in 1989. I'm only half way through the book, but I just had to send out a comment to Karen. My ex-husband and I both worked as backstage production assistants at Iowa State Center whenever there was a show in town, and guess what? It was my ex who drove Billy Joel to see Dr. Good that Sunday afternoon! He was my dentist so that's how he happened to be selected to see him. And, Dr. Good was my dentist because he happened to be from my hometown of Atlantic, Iowa. So I'm sure Karen and I have probably met in his office. It's amazing how people can connect with's like playing the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. And now, I live near Reading, PA, probably about an hour away from where Karen now lives. I hope you read this and e-mail me. By the way, when I read this passage from the book to my ex, he remembers it as a crown coming off, not a chipped tooth. :-D

(52) Mary Gruhlke- Hall
Sun, 3 May 2009 03:46:48 +0000

Todays Star Tribune book review was the first I've heard of The Girls From Ames.
I especially can't wait to read it, as I too, have my "girls". The Hosebags, or formally, The United Sisterhood of Hosebags. (Yes the awful name stuck, much to the dismay of a few!).
There are officially 8 of us. We are in our mid 50's and except for one, all back to our main roots, living in Minneapolis. A couple of the gals started their friendship in kindergarten, a couple in 2nd grade, and ALL of us joined forces in 7th grade. We all graduated from the same high school in 1971, and are looking forward to attending our (gulp) 40th class reunion in 2011.
It's difficult to summarize, (almost 50 years), all we've shared and experienced, but I can say this. Not many people are as fortunate as us, to have survived this long, love each other this much, laughed as much as we do at ourselves and yes, cried as much.
I'm thankfully aware of how unique and precious these hosebag relationships are and can't wait to read The Girls From Ames, to compare notes and life stories.
For we ALL have stories. And I for one, love ours.

(51) Ann McCarthy Singer
Sat, 2 May 2009 17:38:25 +0000

Saturday, May 2 Edina, MN
Thank you Mr. Zaslow and all the "girls". I Loved (times 1,000) the book! When I bought it, I did so because I too am a "girl" from Ames having been born, raised and educated there--but I, too, have left. Little did I realize until I was into the story that the fathers of two of these wonderful girls were in my 1953 AHS graduating class. One of those two (Chuck Benson Jenny's father)lived across the street from our house starting in 1948 when his family moved to Ames. Our families were close neighborhood friends. In later years Chuck worked with my father, and after I graduated from ISU, I worked for his mother, Vida Benson, in the office of the university Social Director which she headed. I also have kept in contact with 12 college sorority sister friends for the 51 years since we left ISU. We started with a composite letter that we have continuted almost without fail in each of years since and, in our more mature years, have had a number of memorable reunions all around the U.S. We surely can relate to all the strong relationships that these Ames girls have established and continue. Today in our Minneapolis newspaper was an article about the book, and the author. I was thrilled to learn that Mr. Zaslow and three of the "girls" are coming to our Barnes and Noble store next week. I can't wait! Ann

(50) rachelle stanko
Fri, 1 May 2009 22:09:31 +0000

In the spring of 1986 I was about to graduate from high school and had no idea where to go to college. Luckily, there was a woman at my school who saw my confusion and knew just who to introduce to me, Florence Charles Faegre, Wells College, class of 1938. That small act of kindness led me to Wells College, a formerly all women's college, in Upstate NY. Florence was the matriarch of the MN Wells College Club and a formidable woman, who I instantly loved! She was a huge advocate for the single-sex college experience and although I shuttered to think of living amongst all women, I enrolled and went off to Aurora, NY in August 1986. Who knew it would be such a life changing experience?

Wells is a small college and was even more so in the late 1980's. At one point we had less than 400 women on campus, so you knew everyone. It was in this setting that I met the women, who today, 20 years after graduating, are my very closest and dearest friends. They include women who graduated many years before me (class of 1935) thru women who are graduating in the upcoming weeks (May 2009). We live all over the world, but when an email, text, letter, or Facebook friend request comes in, I feel as close to them as ever! The women I met at Wells have taught me how to share, give, live, cry, and love. There is nothing like a group of women who share a common experience, no matter their age.

I know that if I want or need to talk, cry, or just giggle, there is always a Wells Woman who will pick the phone up, return the text, or simply open the letter when the mail comes and respond. A huge thank you to all of my Wells women!

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