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355 pages, Hardcover
First published June 14, 2016
I ate in the blunt way I had as a child—a glut of spaghetti, mossed with cheese. The nothing jump of soda in my throat.
I tended to the in-between spaces of other people’s existences, working as a live-in aide. Cultivating a genteel invisibility in sexless clothes, my face blurred with the pleasant, ambiguous expression of a lawn ornament.
Everyone was healthy, tan, and heavy with decoration, and if you weren't, that was a thing too-you could be some moon creature, chiffon over lamp shades, on a kitchari cleanse that stained all your dishes with turmeric.Maybe I'm not in the right frame of mind, perhaps my IQ has dropped a bit after hitting thirty, but seriously, this one was just giving me a headache.
A middle-aged Evie Boyd flashes back on her young tumultuous life in the late 1960's as this story commences. She recalls how easy it seemed for her, a lonely, naive and vulnerable 14 year old to leave her divorced parents behind (off and on) and join up with the amorphous group on "the ranch". Not knowing to be wary of these misguided people and so hungry for affection and attention, Evie quickly becomes obsessed with the dark-haired Suzanne, a new way of life, and begins to worship both her and the leader of the cult, Russell learning his version of freedom, truth and love.
Cline's THE GIRLS is well written, descriptive of the time and kept my attention throughout, but is not an original story by any means. Having read Vincent Bugliosi's HELTER SKELTER a year ago, I found THE GIRLS to be a knock-off version based on one teen's life, her time spent with the free-spirited group and a recounting of the horror that evolved. While not as gruesome as HS, it is sexually graphic and very similar in nature to both the movie and VB's book.