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The Girls from Ames
by Zaslow, Jeffrey
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1. Zaslow writes, I admit that I sometimes asked the Ames girls questions that were silly, obvious, or naïve. And yet I also think that being a man gave me a wider canvas, and I made no assumptions. I asked. I rephrased. I tried to comprehend (p. xv). How well do you think he succeeded? Do you agree that a woman writing about the Ames girls might have been distracted by her own beliefs and experiences? Or might she have considered aspects of their story that Zaslow missed?

2. Did the story of a particular Ames girl resonate more with you than the others? If so, which one and why?

3. After her high school graduation, Jenny's insurance executive father predicted, in 15 years, one of you girls will be estranged from the group. Two of you will be divorced. One of you will still be single. One of you may be dead. You have to expect that. Because that's just how life works (p. 22). In some ways he was amazingly prescient, but he was way off in terms of how close the girls would remain. How might his predictions have been worded if they had been made by one of the girls' mothers instead?

4. After being singled out for criticism by the other Ames girls in high school, Sally told her mother what had happened. She supported and advised Sally, but did not try to interfere. Sally remembers, this was a great lesson in parenting for me. It is not our job, as parents, to go to coaches, teachers and other parents and try to make everything run smoothly for our kids&Our job is to help our kids function in the [imperfect] world (p. 122). Do you agree with her assessment? Overall, have parenting styles changed for the better or worse over the past few decades?

5. Few of [the Ames girls'] husbands have long-standing groups of close friends, with decades of history together, whom they confide in and turn to week after week (p. 101). Yet, just about every year they take over care of their houses and children so the girls can attend a reunion. Do most men appreciate women's friendships even if they don't enjoy those kinds of bonds themselves?

6. Bottom line: Women talk. Men do things together (p. 102). How does this statement bear out in your own experience? Do you have any close friends of the opposite sex? In what ways, if any, are those friendships different than those with people of the same sex?

7. The Ames girls abide by some unspoken ground rules: They don't brag about their husbands' jobs or incomes. They talk about their children's achievements, but not in a gloating way. They make every effort to be with each other for key events in their lives&If they have things that need to be hashed out, it all remains in the group (p. 288). If you have a long-standing group of friends, what are the ground rules that have kept you close?

Additional discussion questions from: Reading Group Guides
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