Let’s start with the basics: The Girls by Emma Cline is definitely the hit book of the Summer (well, Winter here in the land down under) and following the hype I felt completely compelled to pick this one up – and I can’t say I was disappointed.
The Girls follows Evie Boyd as she remembers her adolescent summer adventures — not hanging out by the pool with her girlfriends or finding love at the beach, but her journey getting caught in the midst of Russell’s cult that resembles the Manson family. Mesmerised by the older girls — specifically the charismatic Suzanne — Evie spends most of her summer at The Ranch, where the group calls home. What at first seems a paradise, ultimately turns into a entirely too-messy situation and Evie seems to be caught in the middle.
Emma Cline’s writing is delicious. There’s no other way to describe it. Often when a book is considered the it book I tend to be hesitant before picking it up, but immediately after reading an excerpt from the first chapter online I placed an order on book depository. The writing was so completely disgustingly good — it’s the type of writing I aspire towards.
Prior to starting this book I’ll admit I did not know much about the Manson family, but I think it’s safe to say without spoiling anything that The Girls ends in blood. Cline definitely drew inspiration from the Manson’s for her story, especially regarding the crucial plot points, but personally I found this novel to be more about the characters than it was Russell’s cult. The girls (as the title suggests) were all so well crafted as characters and I definitely found myself myself in awe over them. Just as Evie was infatuated with Suzanne and the other girls, I found myself just as taken. Evie lived to please Suzanne, not Russell, which I think is a crucial point to make. The men in this story are present, but I believe it’s important to note the female friendship dynamics were definitely more prominent than the relationship between the girls and Russell.
In a decade remembered for smoking dope and flower power, Emma Cline’s writing definitely took you to the 60s. I found it impossible to read and not feel drawn to the period. I was longing for a lazy summer the entire time I was reading this, which was difficult considering I was in the midst of Winter, but that’s what Cline’s writing can do. It’s hard to imagine what I would do in Evie’s situation. She was completely infatuated by the girls and the allure of Russell’s way of living that she got caught in a mess far beyond her fourteen years. But Evie is alone and struggling to come to terms with her parents separation, so she clings to love where it is found, and unfortunately for her that love is found at The Ranch.
It’s hard for me to explain just how beautiful I found this novel. If it at all sounds like something that would interest you, I highly suggest you pick it up. I definitely was not disappointed.