The Last Girls
Ballantine, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD
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Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth
ew 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
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.
his 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.
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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