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Jeffrey Zaslow co-authored books with professor Randy Pausch and Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger.

Author is bringing 9 of ‘The Girls from Ames’ along

By John Keenan

Jeffrey Zaslow has an eye for a love story.

Not the traditional boy-girl thing. Zaslow’s last three books have chronicled the love of a man for his young children and for embracing life; the love of a group of childhood friends for each other; and the love of an unexpected hero for flying and for the family that supports him.

That’s why Zaslow, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, can shift gears from the story of terminally ill computer-science professor Randy Pausch (“The Last Lecture”) to the tale of 11 childhood girlfriends from Ames, Iowa (“The Girls From Ames”), to the life of the heroic pilot who safely landed his plane in the Hudson River (“Highest Duty”).

He sees the common thread running through each.

“I think all three books are about love, truly,” Zaslow said.

“(Capt. Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger) had a love of flying and a love of his family, and most of the book is not about the accident, it’s about the things that matter to him.

“‘The Last Lecture’ is also a love story. It’s pretty much a letter to his kids. It’s what he wants to share with his children.

“And the Ames book is about the love between friends, and the love in their families, through heartache and good times. The Ames book’s got a lot of sadness in there, too.”

Zaslow will be in Omaha next week to speak about his books at an Omaha Hearing School luncheon lecture and a Kripke Jewish Federation Library’s 36th Annual Jewish Book Month event.

Nine of the 10 surviving “Girls From Ames” will accompany him to the school.

“Girls” grew from a column Zaslow wrote about the power of female friendships. The huge response to the column got him thinking that the subject might be worth a book.

Judging from the popularity of “The Girls From Ames,” he was right.

“It’s pretty amazing, because unlike ‘The Last Lecture’ and (‘Highest Duty’), it did not get a great deal of national publicity, not national television anyway,” Zaslow said. “And it just continues to go, and I guess it’s because women see themselves in this story of the Ames girls. It makes them think about their own friends. I’m grateful to the Ames girls for their story and for sharing it.

“They’re wonderful women, all nine you’re going to meet there ... The book ended in an arbitrary moment, when I had to hand it in. But since then, two of them have had breast cancer, and they’ve been there for each other. Their friendship continues, and they’re still there for each other, and they’ll talk about that.”

Amber Miller of the Omaha Hearing School said the organization is pleased to have Zaslow at its sixth annual author event.

“With what he’s been doing, with ‘The Last Lecture,’ co-authoring that, and with ‘Sully’ Sullenberger just recently, we thought that it definitely would have a community interest,” she said.

The Omaha Hearing School luncheon lecture will begin at 11 a.m. Dec. 10. Tickets, which include a luncheon and silent auction, are $50 and will benefit the school at 1110 N. 66th St. To purchase, call 496-4007.

The Kripke Jewish Federation Library’s event is at 8 p.m. Dec. 9 in the Jewish Community Center Auditorium, 333 S. 132nd St. For more information on that event, call 334-6462.

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