November 02, 1998 12:00 PM

by Nina Barrett

Friends who met in Catholic school in the late 1950s and early 1960s and have remained each other’s biggest supporters, the Girls are five real individuals whose stories—as told by Nina Barrett—are meant to represent a generation. From the start they’re familiar types—the slut, the sophisticate, the insecure fat girl, the seemingly conventional and the ambitious. And though their lives (all marry young with all but one divorcing; one battles substance addiction; another comes out as a lesbian) are not what the nuns who taught them might have foreseen, nothing that befalls the group is terribly surprising. Barrett, author of two previous books about motherhood, is not an especially incisive or graceful writer, and The Girls is filled with reconstructed scenes and conversations that strain credibility. Still, many readers may recognize their own histories and those of their closest buddies. (Simon & Schuster, $23)

Bottom Line: Predictable take on the power of female friendships

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