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The Last Girls    by Lee Smith order for
Last Girls
by Lee Smith
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

New York Times bestseller The Last Girls is a delight to read. In 1965, a group of twelve college girls in Paducah, Kentucky decided to take a raft trip down the Mississippi River to celebrate their graduation from college and their entrance into the real world. It was an adventure they would never forget. Fast forward to 1999. Several of these girls meet to take a paddlewheel ride down the Mississippi, in order to pay their respects to one of their own group. After Baby died, her husband asked them to take some of her ashes to cast onto the river that Baby loved so much.

This is an in-depth study of these few women who are in a sense every woman with joys and sorrows throughout their lives, and a story to tell. The reader is treated to the thoughts of each of them, as well as the odd male or two. These thoughts might have been coming from my own head. Or yours! I laughed and cried throughout the book. I delighted in the women's accomplishments and sorrowed over their pain. The author has a delicate way of pulling the reader into her story and making each of us a part of the tale she has to tell. Her novel is sensitively written with a knowledge of what makes a woman tick. We are all different and Lee Smith acknowledges that, but she also manages to wrap us all into the same ball.

I liked these women who are so involved, but still holding each other at arm's length. One wants to place a hand on theirs, look in their eyes and say that tomorrow will be better. Just hang in there. The story moves quickly, never hovering over any tragedy, but simply accepting it and moving on. The reader can sense the desperation, that is not readily apparent in the printed words. Lee Smith proves the adage that life is not easy. She also shows, however, that it is worth living, and giving the best you've got.

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