The Girls

Finished The Girls by Emma Cline.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.”

This novel is clearly based around the Manson family, and it is absolutely chilling.  The writing is incredibly deliberate, slowly turning up the tension until my fingers hurt from gripping my iPad.  (I wish I were kidding.  I am not.)

If you’ve ever wondered how people fall prey to cults, this book is your answer.  Evie is dissatisfied with her life and she meets Suzanne, a slightly older girl who seems to be everything that Evie is not.  (Which, if you’ve ever been a teenage girl, you know how appealing that can be.)

Since we all know the story of the Manson family, it’s not a spoiler to say that things go incredibly wrong.  Everything is great at first: the family doesn’t believe in ownership or in rules.  Everyone is free to do and be what they want to be.  Russell has friends in high places and everyone believes that he is so close to a record deal.  (Of course things go sour and once Russell’s ego is punctured that way, all hell breaks loose.)

I had such a hard time believing that this was a debut novel.  That means that Emma Cline is definitely one to watch for and I cannot wait to see what she tackles next.

Recommended.

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