An indelible portrait of girls, the women they become, and that moment in life when everything can go horribly wrong—this stunning first novel is perfect for readers of Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Virgin Suicides and Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad.
Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence.
Emma Cline’s remarkable debut novel is gorgeously written and spellbinding, with razor-sharp precision and startling psychological insight. The Girls is a brilliant work of fiction.
Summer of The Girls
Evie is a Californian teen fumbling her way through the summer of 1969. She grows bored with the monotony of boys, beauty treatments, and hanging with her dull best friend. Until, one day, she sees The Girls walk through the park – no cares, intriguing, and unapologetically head turning. Evie cannot stop thinking about the girls she saw. She sets out to befriend Suzanne, the dark, wild haired girl of the group. They give her a summer that will define the rest of her life.
I read the first chapter of The Girls and honestly did not know if I could finish this book. It is grisly. This book unsettled me in a way you cannot stop thinking of a bad dream you had. I would go ahead and warn anyone that might be sensitive to gory scenes to beware. Please don’t take this as I didn’t enjoy the summer hit. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Her writing is sometimes overly detailed, but overall beautiful with so much feeling.
The story is a renamed retelling of Charles Manson and his infamous girls. I have always been interested in aspects of their cult and notorious crimes. The story itself is unoriginal, but there’s twist. I am applauding the author’s insight into the mind of Evie, the unheroic protagonist of the tale. I remember the feelings Evie sorted through throughout the book as my own feelings from adolescence. I “got” Evie. I was Evie at one time. A revisit into my own times as a teen where I put myself in possibly bad or dangerous situations. Emma Cline puts words to thoughts and feelings we all have, but never say out loud. This was a fast summer read. It has been a few weeks since I have finished this book, and I still feel stuck in 1969. I highly suggest it if you need something gritty that might rub you the wrong way.