Book Club Call-ins

Jeff Zaslow’s new book, out in January 2012. The Magic Room: A Story About the Love We Wish For Our Daughters:


If you are reading The Girls from Ames in your book club, and would like to invite Jeff or one of the Ames girls to call in, please email your request to, or visit the contact page at  It’s been great fun answering questions from book clubs, and we’d be pleased to speak to yours. 

 A reading guide for book clubs is available here:

NEW 9/20/10: A look at how Jeff and the Ames girls interact with book clubs:

JEFF ZASLOW’S latest book, out in January 2012, is titled: THE MAGIC ROOM: A Story About the Love We Wish for Our Daughters. For more info:


The paperback edition of the book has spent twelve weeks on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list. For three weeks, it was #1 on the Heartland Bestseller list, which tracks Midwest bookstores.

The paperback includes a 15-page afterword, updating the story of the Ames girls.

NEW: a moving video from CaringBridge about Karla’s daughter Christie:



Lifetime Television is now working to adapt the book into a movie. The film project is being helmed by Stan Brooks and Jim Head of Once Upon a Time Films. They are prolific, Emmy-winning producers of a great many TV movies.


Gotham Books has announced the title of Jeff’s newest book, The Magic Room: A story about the love we wish for our daughters, due for publication in early 2012. The nonfiction narrative is set at a small-town bridal shop in Michigan, and looks at the lives of a handful of brides (and their parents) who’ve journeyed to the store’s “Magic Room.”

Sheila Walsh Scholarship

Sheila Marie Walsh was born in Ames in 1963 to Sonia (Sunny) and Robert
Walsh. Dr. Walsh was an Ames High graduate (Class of ’53), as are
Sheila’s siblings (sister Susan – ’80; and brothers Mark – ’84, Matt –
’86 and Mike – ’88). Sheila graduated from Ames High in 1981; her life
was cut short tragically in 1986.

The friendship that Sheila and her girlfriends at Ames High shared was so unique that their story was turned into the bestselling book, “The Girls From Ames.”

This scholarship was created by Sheila’s 10 best girlfriends to give a
female Ames High School student the opportunity to pursue higher
education. The $1,000 scholarship will be awarded annually to an Ames
High senior with a 3.0 GPA or better. The recipient will be nominated by her friends, and one key qualification is that she be a good friend to others at Ames High — just like Sheila was.

A portion of the proceeds of the sale of “The Girls from Ames” will fund this scholarship.

To contribute to this fund, please make your check payable
to the Ames Education Foundation, and mail it to: Ames Education
Foundation, 415 Stanton Avenue, Ames, Iowa 50014. Please include a note that the donation is for the Sheila Walsh scholarship. Many thanks.


Congratulations to NIKKI BEST, winner of the 2010 Sheila Walsh Scholarship atAmes High School. Nikki, nominated by her friends, plans to become a physical therapist.

Updates on Kelly, Angela…

UPDATED November 1, 2011, a message from KELLY 

My breast cancer story started in September 2007 when I was 45 years old. I am a teacher, and I was diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC) the first week of school. ILC is less likely to show up on a mammogram than other types of breast cancer, and I first noticed my tumor when I had pain in my left shoulder. My oncologist and surgeon agreed that the tumor (the size of a flattened softball) was too large to remove, so I completed six months of chemotherapy before having surgery. By April 2008, my tumor was dramatically smaller. I chose to have a lumpectomy, and axillary lymph nodes were also removed. After completely healing from surgery, I went through radiation.

Although reconstruction of my breast was covered under insurance in Minnesota, I was hesitant to do anything more to my body that might invite infection or weaken my immune system. I waited two years before working with a plastic surgeon to restore my breast to a more normal size and shape. Prior to reconstruction, I had a daily reminder of cancer every time I looked in the mirror, and my negative thoughts were sabotaging my health. Now I go weeks without thinking about cancer, and thanks to reconstruction I feel much more healthy and vigorous.

Being bald for awhile and then being lopsided are minor inconveniences. What takes a toll on me is the recurring thought that the cancer will return. I am so grateful to have a “sister,” Angela, who understands this journey. She is truly the most positive, inspirational woman I know, and I feel strengthened every time I am with her. I also appreciate that so many readers of “The Girls from Ames” have contacted me to share their stories of survival.

As of September 2011, three years after completing my treatment, there is no evidence of cancer. Every hour, every day, every week that passes puts me closer to saying with absolute assurance that I am a survivor. Years from now I hope to say that Angela and I are both survivors, and that our daughters remain cancer free.

UPDATE FROM August 2010

Readers of “The Girls from Ames” have been asking for updates on the Ames girls’ lives since the book was completed in November 2008. Many have also asked for health updates on Kelly and Angela.

Kelly has completed her treatments for breast cancer, looks great and feels well. She is back at her job teaching journalism and writing at Faribault High School in Faribault, Minn.

Angela has completed all of her treatments for inflammatory breast cancer. After 16 chemotherapy infusions early in the year, she had surgery in late April followed by 32 radiation treatments. A CT scan in August showed no evidence of disease. As a preventative measure for this aggressive form of cancer, Angela’s doctors prescribed six rounds of chemo pills that she was able to take from home. Her final dose ended on Dec 22, 2009, and she’s on a path to rebuild her energy, strength and health.

Both Angela and Kelly have been very moved by the show of concern from readers of the book.

Here’s a note from Kelly:

“I finished treatment for breast cancer at the end of July 2008, and at this time there is no evidence of disease. Even though Angela and I have different types of breast cancer, we both initially went through similar treatments which involved chemotherapy for a few months, which shrunk tumors that had spread to our lymph nodes; followed by surgery; and then radiation.

“Although our treatments were similar, the drugs, surgery and radiation affected us very differently. Breast cancer is a unique experience for each woman, but I have truly benefitted from having a “sister” in this journey who can relate to my experience. Angela and I definitely feel a deeper bond to each other now as a result of sharing breast cancer.

“When some of the ‘girls from Ames’ were in Omaha in December 2009 for a fund-raiser, we gathered in a hotel room late one night and Angela and I showed the women how our surgeries have impacted our bodies. Although it should have been a serious, poignant moment, we found many things to laugh about.

“My left breast was affected by cancer, and with Angela it was her right breast. When I walk arm-in-arm with her I feel as though we form a beautiful, strong whole woman.”
— Kelly

And here’s a note from Angela:

“I’m so touched by everyone’s well wishes for me and Kelly. Kelly has been a big inspiration to me as I completed my treatments. While I experienced everything my radiologist warned me about “” itchy, red skin, peeling, blistering, fatigue “” I am now feeling much better. I’m happy to be finished with this cancer chapter of my life which began on Oct. 20, 2008. It’s wonderful to be a survivor and I credit my friends and family for helping make that happen. This book and all of its fans kept me positive and grateful throughout my nine months of treatment. I enjoy hearing and reading your stories about friends and cancer survival. Thank you for your caring and support.”
— Angela

Best Seller


The Girls from Ames has reached:

#3 on the New York Times Nonfiction Best Sellers list

#3 on the Publisher’s Weekly Best Sellers list

#1 on the Heartland Best Sellers list (of bookstores in the Midwest)

And please click on this link to get a summer reading ecard that can be sent to your friends

Des Moines appearance, April 22

Book Launch at Iowa State with the Ames Girls, April 23

Ames Tribune article by Carole Horowitz

From Ames365

By Dick Haws Columnist

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.

Girls from Ames ecard to send to your friends:

Click this link and the card will appear

Kirkus Reviews: Girls From Ames