Title: The Girls
Author: Emma Cline
Publisher: Ramdon House
Published: June 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction, Adult.
Average Goodreads rating: 3.52
Girls—their vulnerability, strength, and passion to belong—are at the heart of this stunning first novel for readers of Jeffrey Eugenides’ 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, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.
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—and an indelible portrait of girls, and of the women they become.
My Rating and General Opinion
I was expecting a really exiting story because I’ve always been intrigued by this theme and similar ones.
Proof that infatuation is damn dangerous!! I understand this girls’ journey, after all she was nothing but a little girl… blinded by the new possibilities…
This was an interesting and enjoyable read but in the writing department it took me a bit to get used to this author’s style. I found it to be too flourished for my taste, it was understandable but still a lot of decorative language that wasn’t necessary.
I thought I was getting a fictionalized but true to itself story about the Manson Sect/Family (call it as you wish) but that’s not what you get from this story. That left behind, the story reminded me too much of the show Aquarius (which I guess makes sense in some way) and was intriguing and interesting. The story follows young Evie as she is going through all of those hard teen times in the decade of the 60s which only makes things worse. And she meets these other free-spirited girls and falls into their spell. Then she meets the ranch and the family and with the time she passes there, her infatuation towards some key player gets the best of her. Some things that are not happily accepted in the ranch happen and afterward… well we know what happens afterwards. Still, the ending felt flat and lacking for me, in fewer words the ending left me cold. Everything was supposedly building for that ending and I didn’t feel anything for it. Evie was our main character and I enjoyed her evolution and her insight but still found the ending was disconnected somehow, compared to the rest of the adventure at least, which really gripped me, especially all of those Suzanne-Evie interactions that are the core of the story.
This novel is separated in three parts and although we mostly read from the 1969 timeline we also hop now and then into the immediate present. In this present we find an adult and matured but not improved Evie and here the author introduced another couple of characters so that we could see how Evie interacted.
I can see why they were introduced, to serve as a kind of parallel between 1969 and nowadays, basically to let you know that the story can repeat itself and that weaklings can always be found and manipulated in any situation, but did we really need that reminder?? With that said, I understand what the author tried to do, but I can say that in my opinion the result didn’t work that well. These new characters were added and some of the background that crossed their stories with Evie’s own story was mentioned but just that, mentioned. No back story was approached and only questions were left for the reader, so basically I think either she could have spared us it or provide us with a proper backstory and a bit of more insight or something more plotwise.
As a plus I saw all the characters pictured here very real and interesting.
First we’ve got Evie, our main character. I liked her enough, although she was a teenager and even if sometimes she seemed strangely mature for her age, when the page turned you found a vapid girl (which at times I didn’t completely understand). I see how she got broken in her teen years because you cans ee her rationalizing the correct things but still acting against her better judgement. After that happening more than once I saw how she lost perspective and lost everything and as you meet her as an adult I see the same thing, a woman whose foundations were interrupted and has not been able to mature and evolve accordingly.
Then the most important person in Evie’s world came to be not her best friend, or a family member (really understandable) but an unknown girl later known as Suzanne. I must admit I saw part of what Evie saw in Suzanne, she did shine and have some kind of strange attraction that brought you to her but still she wasn’t a good or amicable person. I don’t think she was the devil she turned out to be but I didn’t see her as a sincere person either. She knew what she wanted, she didn’t really like to share and she was fully responsible of her actions. She was a master manipulator and knew how to read people easily and use that in her favor, and that’s exactly why she so easily adopted Evie under her arm and guided her, because she saw the malleable in her.
You get to meet a lot of the “family” and I actually think kindly of some of the girls but still the main man, Russell, was supposed to be the center of attention which I didn’t see happening and this whole thing still doesn’t bring me any closer to understand what the appeal was to the original or this fictionalized personification of “that” guy.
I was expecting more from this book but I still really enjoyed it, so if you are interested in this themed books definitely check it out.