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The Girls

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Fiction (2016)
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.

355 pages, Hardcover

First published June 14, 2016

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About the author

Emma Cline

15 books3,284 followers
Emma Cline is an American writer and novelist, originally from California. She published her first novel, "The Girls", in 2016, to positive reviews. The book was shortlisted for the John Leonard Award from the National Book Critics Circle and the Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize.
Her stories have been published in The New Yorker, Tin House, Granta and The Paris Review.
In 2017 Cline was named one of Granta's Best Young American Novelists.

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5 stars
32,435 (15%)
4 stars
73,485 (35%)
3 stars
71,258 (34%)
2 stars
23,579 (11%)
1 star
5,804 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 20,665 reviews
Profile Image for Justin.
284 reviews2,301 followers
August 1, 2016
I'm turning a corner here, Goodreaders. The old me would rate this book two stars and spend some time telling you how awful the book is and all the reasons I couldn't stand it, etc.

But, that's the old me.

I'm turning a corner. Turning over a new leaf. Doing a 180. Whatever.

At least for this review.

People I know, love, and respect really, really like this book. I completely get it, too. I absolutely understand how you could read this book and think it's amazing and get all caught up in the story and the characters and be transported back to that crazy time in our nation's history.

I just didn't connect with this book at any point, ever. I wanted to. I felt like I should have. I just didn't. I read it, never really cared, got to the end, shrugged, got off the couch, and made myself a sandwich.

The sandwich thing happens after I finish every book, not just bad ones, and especially not just this one. Sometimes it's cereal or maybe an apple, but who really cares about my post-reading eating habits that may or may not be really a thing anyway?

Feel free to message me for more info.

I read Helter Skelter in high school and that book was... way too long for a high school kid to read. I mean, it was a great read, fascinating, unbelievable, hard to even rationalize that it was a real event. Crazy.

This stupid book... Wait, I'm turning a corner...

This book took real events, changed the characters names, and did nothing creative outside of that. It was fine, I guess. It's not worth whatever advance she got from Random House, and it's not worth the attention it's getting. It's not written very well, often comes across as too pretentious and trying too hard to be awesome, and ultimately forgettable.

Sorry... I'm trying to change....

Hang on...

But, people like it and that's great. Sometimes books don't grab me the same way, and The Girls and I had a bad first date and still tried to make it work. It was doomed from the start, but I read it, it was short, and I can now move on to other books.

Have a good night everyone.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,993 reviews298k followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
May 17, 2016

I very rarely put aside books after reading just a prologue and one chapter, but I cannot make myself suffer through any more of this. My stomach was coiling with dread each time I even thought about pushing through another 300+ pages of this overwritten prose.
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.

I'm sure a certain type of reader will love this, but that reader is not me. Out of curiosity, though, what's with the Manson-related stories? I just finished My Favourite Manson Girl, and now we have this book, which is based on the Manson cult and tells how Evie Boyd gets drawn into it. Did I miss something?

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Profile Image for Debbie.
455 reviews2,897 followers
June 6, 2016
Holy moly, I LOVED this one! My first 5-star book this year!

I'm a sucker for a female narrator talking about what she had to have, what she didn't get, what she really meant, what she should have done. I like all that talking in the head. I make it sound sort of light and funny but there is nothing light or funny about 14-year-old Evie. She seems to be living a typically boring life when she sees a girl in the park…and an obsession begins. Her ordinary life hits the extraordinary, and pow, right in the kisser.

I worried that this would be just another teenage-girl-angst book. It was so not that (I say in my best valley-girl voice). This is a tale of big-time obsession, not your humdrum harmless crush. Just Evie’s bad luck, really: the crowd is bad and her age works against her. Can Evie help it that her cerebral cortex isn't developed well enough for her to even have a chance of sensing danger or making good decisions? Her moral compass isn't showing a clear direction yet; she doesn't have a clue how dangerous or wrong it all is.

Evie tells two stories—one about what is happening to her right now and one about what happened to her back then. The back and forth is seamless and works well. What also works well is the tension. We can see the train wreck about to happen, but Evie cannot. Her innocence and her vulnerability are palpable; you want to reach into the story and shake her. Or chain her to the bedpost until she’s legal.

The language is to die for—lots of cool imagery and nice sophisticated sentences. And though I would say this is a cerebral read, it’s also accessible. There’s not a whole lot of action, but it’s not slow. It’s super profound and really good at getting inside a 14-year-old’s head. And let’s not forget the setting: this was my time (chamomile tea and long flowered skirts included), and the author has it down perfectly. As with so many others, my horror at the Manson murders also includes a morbid fascination, so I was glued to the page trying to understand how a control freak becomes charismatic and succeeds in putting people into trances.

One thing I wasn’t crazy about is the fact that all men are pretty much portrayed as obscene; I’m thinking this might bug guy readers.

This book still has me thinking about What Ifs, even though I read it weeks ago. I’m certain that the What Ifs are still haunting Evie too (it’s a pretty good book if I’m acting like Evie is a real person!). She has been to the other side, and like others who have been there, she forever after will be just going through the motions, a heavy cloud following above her. Yep, this is one dark book—it’s at times pretty creepy and disturbing. Fear, desire, vulnerability, idol worship, loneliness, danger, mind-fucking—all are part of the darkness.

This book reminded me a bit of two other favorites, Aquarium (strong tone and imagery) and The Woman Upstairs (girl obsession, first-person narration, cerebral). I just loved this book’s language, imagery, psychological insight, soul. I’m super impressed by this debut—I will wait eagerly for Cline’s next book.

Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.

P.S. I’m all messed up about this being called historical fiction! Historical fiction is supposed to be pre-1950s, right? Historical fiction is not supposed to EVER be happening during my lifetime! I mean, come on, lol! What are these young whippersnapper genre-namers thinking?
Profile Image for Jessica J..
1,027 reviews2,048 followers
February 10, 2017
Two stars might be a little harsh? Should I give it three? I don't know, I'm on the fence, maybe I'm just feeling burned by all the hype surrounding this book. Its $2 million dollar price tag built the hype, and I really did look forward to reading it. I was so excited to get approved on Netgalley. It just did nothing for me, for two reasons:

1. It's really overwritten. There are a few turns of phrase, but Cline really overdoes it. She uses the verb cadge four separate times to describe someone taking something, she describes a meal as a glut of spaghetti, mossed with cheese, the narrator could hear someone's silence. It's too much, and it started to feel like it was more about style than substance -- a style that I found grating.

2. I felt like the narrative was ultimately lacking in depth, which is surprising to me given that many reviews seemed to praise its nuance, its perceptiveness. I only skimmed most of the reviews, because I really did want to form my own opinion, but those were the adjectives that stick out in my head. And to those review-headline writers, I say: eh.

Emma Cline does a couple of things well: she sets a very evocative scene (1969 Haight) and she does a good job laying out why our narrator, Evie, would be drawn to the Manson-eque cult. She has a falling out with her only friend, and feels alienated from her peers. She feels unloved by the boys she develops crushes on. Her practically absent father has left for a twenty-something woman and her mother is more interested in dating than mothering. Evie is lonely, insecure, and desperate for attention. It makes sense that she would get drawn in by Suzanne, a slightly older teen who dangles approval in front of Evie like a carrot. In that regard, yes, the book is perceptive.

But it stops short in a lot of other ways. There's very little examination of the cult leader, the other members, life in the cult itself, and the crime they ultimately commit that summer. I know that Cline really wanted to focus on Evie, but she's not really an cult insider, absent when the crime is ordered and carried out and so it kind of felt like it came out of nowhere to me. Except for the fact that I pictured the cult leader as Charles Manson, I didn't feel like I understood why he'd order this crime and I didn't understand why the girls would obey. It felt a little more like, "Well of course that's going to happen, this is a cult. That's what cults do." As though the reader's existing knowledge of the inspiration was enough development.

I was similarly frustrated by the lack of examination regarding the "after" for Evie. Only the briefest of glimpses are given into what she did after the cult, and I finished the book feeling like this big thing had happened but I had no idea how it really altered the course of her life. There's a thread of the narrative that takes place in the relative present-day, in which Evie is crashing in a friend's home and is surprised by the friend's son and the son's girlfriend. Very little comes of this exchange, except maybe to highlight how paranoid Evie remains. But you could also easily construct the argument that she would have been that way even if she'd never met Suzanne. I desperately wanted something to happen here, and was very disappointed when it went nowhere.

Honestly? To me, this felt like half of a pretty good novel that could have used a slightly more aggressive editor. The writing needed to be brought back down to Earth, but Cline really needed someone to tell her to just keep the story going. The NetGalley I received was just 220 pages, though I think the print edition clocks in around 350 (not really sure how that works). If ever there were a novel that could have used an extra 100 pages, it was this one.
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,483 reviews79k followers
February 23, 2018
I’m going to admit that this book was way deeper and more intellectual than I initially expected it to be. For some reason I was thinking this would be a thriller or mystery of sorts, and I guess it was in some aspects, but it was so much more than that and I’m really glad I was wrong about this one. I had a difficult time believing this was a debut novel as it was so well written; I can see why Random House has pegged this as one of their top books of Summer 2016. I’ll address it right off the bat; I’ve read multiple reviews stating they DNF because of there the top prose with which this was written. I get it; it put me off a bit in the beginning as well, but I’m glad I stuck with it as that tapered off mostly once I got about 15-20% into the book.

“There are those survivors of disasters whose accounts never begin with the tornado warning or the captain announcing engine failure, but always much earlier in the timeline: an insistence that they noticed a strange quality to the sunlight that morning or excessive static in their sheets. A meaningless fight with a boyfriend. As if the presentiment of catastrophe wove itself into everything that came before. Did I miss some sign? Some internal twinge? The bees glittering and crawling in the crate of tomatoes? An unusual lack of cars on the road? The question I remember Donna asking me in the bus-casually, almost as an afterthought. “You ever hear anything about Russell?”…”

This is one of those books that the summary basically tells you the whole synopsis in a nutshell; there really aren’t any surprises here, just the building knot in your stomach as you slowly approach the grotesque ending. I read a lot of books, namely psychological suspense/thriller, so I come across a good bit of violence and graphic content. The interesting thing about this book is how overall it isn’t extremely graphic in the sense of descriptions of violence; a good bit of this is left to your imagination and THAT is what was so disturbing to me.

There were a a few sections that read a bit slow and that is why I didn’t give this the full 5 STARS; the pacing is very steady and not to be rushed. I would not recommend this as a quick, light read (it is about a violent murder involving members of a dangerous cult- think Charles Manson meets Dangerous Girls) but it was a very interesting interpretation of the 1960’s and what all was going on in this time period. I think I would have liked a little more of Russell’s character but I understand why she left him as mysterious and vague, even following the conclusion.

* There isn’t a ton of violence throughout the book, but the ending is a bit disturbing as it does involve a scene (not fully described) with a child. There also is quite a bit of sexual content (mainly Evie is “discovering herself” but a few scenes involving relationships on and off the compound). I felt it fair to include this as it may sway some reader’s decision to pick this book up.

I’m glad I picked this one up; I haven’t read anything in the realm of historical fiction in a hot second and it was satisfying to travel back to a time that my parents were a part of before I was even a blip on their radar. While a heavy read in all aspects, a worthwhile read.

*I received my copy via NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Profile Image for Katie.
277 reviews357 followers
September 3, 2016
As I’m sure everyone knows The Girls is about (despite disclaimers) the Manson murders. Personally I think this would have been a better novel (though probably a less commercially successful one) had she invented her own cult because Cline always seemed to me, understandably, out of her depth when dealing with the inner springs of the Manson cult. It was an odd choice to base this novel so closely on the Manson cult and yet at the same time coyly change names and a few insignificant details. Much of the novel’s failings though are contained in that contradiction, that failure of nerve. It’s often going to feel a bit forced and awkward when an imaginary character is drafted into an historical event and for me that awkwardness eventually marred what was promising to be a truly splendid book.

Cline sets up the novel brilliantly. Most of the best writing in this book is about adolescent female insecurity. She’s fabulous at identifying those needy vacuums in which self-destructive behaviour can take root. Evie, the heroine, has an absent father and a mother who has reverted to adolescent insecurities herself in her search for love. Evie has no role models in her life. Young boys provide no solution – “We believed that boys were acting with a logic that we could someday understand. To believe that their actions had any meaning beyond thoughtless impulse. We were like conspiracy theorists, seeing portent and intention in every detail, wishing desperately that we mattered enough to be the object of planning and speculation. But they were just boys. Silly and young and straightforward; they weren't hiding anything.”

Then she meets Suzanne, a glamorous older female who seems self-possessed and capable of imparting the trick to Evie. “It was an age when I’d immediately scan and rank other girls, keeping up a constant tally of how I fell short.” The evolution of her relationship with Suzanne, the gaping hole in her life Suzanne fills, is done brilliantly. Suzanne will eventually take Evie to the ranch.

It’s odd to say that this is when the novel became less compelling for me because obviously this is when the tension should have been cranked up several notches. But Cline’s Evie is never taken in by the commune. She has the detachment of the author. From the start she sees Russell, the Manson figure, as a rather unremarkable middle aged man. Cline barely allows him any charisma. It’s like Cline fears going anywhere near him and so doesn’t. He will remain unexplored throughout the novel. Strangely she even largely ignores Suzanne’s adulation of him and so even that is not any kind of felt tension in the novel. Most of the key Manson material is told not shown. And as a result neither Cline nor her narrator Evie ever enters into the spirit of the cult. She remains a critical bystander, like the reader. Evie’s main reason for being there is her huge girl crush on Suzanne. Here Cline is in her element. When she’s writing about stuff she knows about she’s brilliant. “No one had ever looked at me before Suzanne, not really, so she became my definition. Her gaze softening my centre so easily that even photographs of her seemed aimed at me, ignited with private meaning.”

The writing begins to suffer when Cline is dependent on research. Cline deals with her obvious difficulty of writing about life at the ranch by constantly removing Evie who, rather unaccountably, keeps returning home for lengthy periods. In this way Cline doesn’t have to write about the period in which everything went dark. Rather vapid transitional passages of menacing prose are called upon to do the job – “The presence of death seemed to colour everything, like an odourless mist that filled the car and pressed against the windows, a mist we inhaled and exhaled and that shaped every word we spoke.” When Cline is out of her depth her prose, superbly eloquent when she knows what she’s talking about, becomes clichéd and generic. Also even Evie’s relationship with Suzanne begins to elude Cline and so her transition from free spirited wild child to psycho killer is left shadowy at best. It’s a massive jump to suggest there’s some kind of inevitable connection between a young female’s conditioned desperation for attention and love and becoming a cold blooded child killer, rather like someone using Hitler to dramatise the danger of eating disorders. It has become clear by now that the Manson murders are the selling point of this book, rather than the heart and soul of it.

Some of the reviews praise this novel for its power to disturb but this is material that will disturb no matter how well or badly it’s narrated so I’m not sure it’s power to disturb is really much of an achievement. Personally I look forward to her next book when there isn’t perhaps so much commercial pressure on her because Emma Cline is a brilliant young writer and there’s lots of fabulous writing in this book; unfortunately it didn’t quite work for me as a novel.

I realise this sounds a bit negative. Truth is, I thought this was absolutely brilliant to begin with (I'd give five stars to the first fifty pages) but then felt a bit let down by Cline’s decision to opt for sensationalism rather than trust in her immense talent as a writer. Maybe this is what a young writer has to do nowadays to get published.
Profile Image for Julie .
4,079 reviews59k followers
April 12, 2019
The Girls by Emma Cline is a 2016 Random House publication.
Disturbingly realistic, weird, thought provoking and engrossing-

Loosely based on the Manson cult in the late sixties, this novel explores the allure of the hippie commune atmosphere for fourteen- year old Evie, who is adrift and marginalized by her divorced parents, and suffering from loneliness and boredom.

Evie meets Suzanne while out roaming around and continues to run into her until she is finally invited to visit ‘The Ranch’ and meet the charismatic ‘Russell’. Finding herself more immersed in this life and less a tuned to her own home life, she spends more and more time at the ranch, eagerly participating in anything her role model, mentor, and secret crush, Suzanne might be into. But, as the climate on the ranch begins to shift, turning dark and tense, Evie will find herself right on the cusp of a life altering moment- one that will forever haunt her throughout her adult years.

When this book was published back in 2016, I waffled on it, not sure if was a good fit for me or not. The reviews were mostly positive, however, so I put it in my ‘wish list’. I am always overwhelmed by the books I am assigned, or must be read within a certain time frame, and with those who are always competing for my attention- the private reads and library books- so it wasn’t long before this book fell completely off my radar- out of sight- out of mind.

However, while cleaning up my Overdrive wish-list a few weeks back, I once more found myself wondering if I should keep it on the list, check it out, or delete it. Obviously, curiosity finally got the better of me and I decided to borrow it and read a few chapters to see how it went. I ended up reading it in nearly one sitting.

The author did an admirable job with time and place, sending the reader back to the tumultuous year of 1969. The story is a familiar one, we know the players, even though their names are changed, but the atmosphere is no less fraught with a sense of impending terror, made worse by knowing exactly what is coming.

Evie’s story, while fictional, is still, even now, a cautionary tale. Her near obsession with Suzanne, her parent’s self-absorption and preoccupations, and her teenage angst, make her the perfect target, and she easily falls under the spell of Russell and Suzanne, and their strange, squalid lifestyle, quite willingly.

As an adult Evie looks back on that period in her life with a plethora of emotions, some of which were puzzling and truly shocking, and left me feeling more than a little unsettled.

Overall, this is a well-written, dark, and nearly mesmerizing novel of suspense. I am glad I decided to take the plunge instead of discarding this one!

4 stars
Profile Image for Baba.
3,620 reviews986 followers
July 6, 2023
The 1960s age of free love, drugs aplenty and rock music is coming to an end, but in one of its heartlands in California the band plays on; the band being wannabee rock star Russell and his, for want of better terms, groupies and hangers-on. 14 year old Evie is almost immediately obsessed with outlier, and older teenager Suzanne, and it's the futility of Evie's both worrisome and mundane home life in a Californian dairy town, that sees her pulled, or should that be, sees her gallop into Suzanne and Russell's sphere.

One often hears the terms 'stunning' or 'dazzling' debut, but self proclaimed Manson murders obsessed Emma Cline well and truly hits this out of the love caravan! Blatantly inspired by the Manson murders and Sharon Tate's kidnapping, what Cline does majestically is capture the heart, mind and soul of 14 year old Evie as she is drawn into this world; by telling Evie's story almost entirely from her point of view; and giving me her point of view, especially of the woman involved (with the 'group'). Provocative and trigger-packed (she's a 14 year old girl!), this is a superb coming of age psychological drama that also captures the late 1960s through the more detached eyes of the adolescents of the day, and does it so well!

There's so much going on that I'm not sure of, or it's purposefully left vague, but it's brilliantly executed, because I'm not a reader, I'm Evie, and I'm sort of in love with this reckless self-assured older girl, who in turn appears to be subservient to this powerfully alluring older wannabee rock-star. From very early on, I (and you will) know that this will all end badly, and you kind of think Evie knew that too, but once you're on the ride, you kind of feel the journey's going to be worth it, and that maybe what Evie thought too? If you read one book this year! A book so good that I increased my rating by a point, whilst writing this little review! 9 out of 12, Four Star blazer.

Trigger warning details -->
2021 read
Profile Image for Orsodimondo.
2,195 reviews1,816 followers
December 12, 2022


C’è una specie di prologo, due scarse pagine che si concludono così:
il senso di familiarità della giornata era turbato dal solco che le ragazze si andavano aprendo in mezzo al mondo normale. Fluide e incuranti come squali che tagliano l’acqua.
E io sono già conquistato dal senso d’attesa, dalla promessa di mostrarmi qualcosa che ignoro.

Qui e a seguire qualche scatto per le strade di Petaluma preso l’ultima volta che ci sono stato, l’anno di pubblicazione di questo romanzo.

La fluidità è quello che Evie vorrebbe acquisire, è quello che le manca nella sua goffaggine di quattordicenne, nel suo non essere né carne né pesce, né bella né brutta, al massimo carina, ma anche no. Nel suo volere essere più grande dei suoi teneri verdi brevi quattordici anni.
Necessita fluidità sia per essere notati che per diventare se stessi.

Tutto il tempo che avevo passato a prepararmi, gli articoli che mi insegnavano che in realtà la vita era solo una sala d’attesa finché qualcuno non ti notava: i maschi lo stesso tempo l’avevano passato a diventare se stessi.


Ma come si fa a essere notata o a diventare se stessi se si manca di punti di riferimento?
Se si cerca nello sguardo di un altro la conferma della propria identità?
Se il padre se ne è andato a vivere altrove, a vivere con la sua segretaria che ha vent’anni, un padre che è sicuramente diventato se stesso, e ben consapevole di sé.
Se invece la madre rimasta sola smette di occuparsi di Evie e inizia a rimuginare su se stessa, a cercarsi e cercare risposte, a mangiare alghe accendere incensi e perdersi nella new age.
Quando anche un anno di differenza d’età significa molto.


Poi, però, Evie vede Suzanne nel parco e gli atomi cambiano disposizione, perché Suzanne Parker è la prima che la guarda, nessun altro l’aveva mai guardata davvero prima di Suzanne, e quindi, da quel momento in poi è Suzanne a “definire” Evie.


Erano i meravigliosi anni Sessanta, l’ultima estate del decennio, il 1969, il mondo stava scoprendo il sesso e perdendo l’innocenza.
Come sta per perdere l’innocenza Evie Boyd in questo romanzo d’esordio che è un classico coming of age, racconto di formazione.
Ma non proprio così classico perché…


Perché Cline mescola realtà e finzione, e la realtà che sceglie di inserire nel corpo della sua finzione sono brutti eventi molto celebri, che ricalcano il massacro di Cielo Drive, la morte della ventiseienne Sharon Tate moglie incinta di Roman Polanski, e gli altri assassinii di quel tipo che sono venuti dopo, Charles Manson la sua setta e quelle ragazze, che sono davvero molto simili a queste ragazze.
Però sposta tutto qualche centinaio di miglia a nord, più su di San Francisco, nella terra del vino (e da un paio d’anni del fuoco), a Petaluma (dove abita il mio prof preferito).


Ma Cline non si lascia schiacciare dalla cronaca, dai fatti accaduti e rimasti impressi nella memoria di milioni (miliardi?). Joan Didion docet. Li plasma, li rende propri, li amalgama alla sua invenzione, li trasforma in letteratura.

Tra un inizio che come ho già detto è una piccola bomba, e un finale ben più che eccellente, il racconto si dipana su due binari: l’oggi, 2015, con Evie sessantenne, ancora vistosamente segnata dai fatti di allora – e l’allora, che è appunto il 1969. Quindi, la protagonista si racconta quattordicenne, e poi sessantenne.


E lo fa dividendo i fatti in quattro parti: le prime tre introdotte da una breve sezione ambientata nel presente e una ben più lunga collocata nel passato.
Chiaro che il racconto è tutto per bocca della Evie di oggi, l’adulta: l’abilità di Cline è di limitare la consapevolezza della sessantenne nel raccontare i fatti della quattordicenne, di lasciare che quell’estate si srotoli come vista da un adolescente.


Quando non ci riesce, quando l’adulta anticipa i tempi, spiega troppo, brucia la sorpresa (come nell’episodio del primo incontro ravvicinato, nel momento in cui davvero entrano in scena le ragazze, Evie è rimasta a piedi tradita dalla catena della bici e il pulmino nero si ferma a soccorrerla…), la voce si appesantisce, stecca.
Sono pochi momenti, di solito Emma Cline supera la prova, è brava, avvincente, esordiente ma già scafata. Per me, promossa, pressoché a pieni voti.


La frase che segue rende bene la differenza tra le due epoche:
Potevi prendere i semi da una cimetta e ripiantarli per conto tuo, se ti andava. Pagare con un sacchetto d’erba la benzina per arrivare a San Francisco. Era strano che le droghe venivano appiattite a una questione di numeri, merce quantificabile invece che portale mistico.


Gli odori sono invadenti, esagerati: questi nasi storditi dal fumo di erba e tabacco, rimangono invece percettivi con sensibilità insolita. Poco credibile.
Il che mi riporta a Eileen di Ottessa Meshfegh e alle mie riflessioni sullo stesso aspetto di quelle pagine (che peraltro hanno più di una analogia col romanzo della Cline).


Nell’orrore di quello che accadde, nell’eterno (eterno?) riproporsi del maschio predatore che manipola e abusa la donna (le ragazze), mi è entrata nel cuore la fragilità dell’adolescente smarrita nel vento cosmico, a cui consigliano (impongono) di spegnere la mente. A quattrodici anni bastano tre mesi per lasciare un segno che neppure sessant’anni riescono a stemperare, men che meno cancellare.

Emma Cline incrocia la freschezza connaturata all’adolescenza a maturità e sapienza di linguaggio

Dalle parti della villa di Mitch.

Il link al bell’articolo di James Woods sul New Yorker (il critico che ha aperto le porte dell’America a Elena Ferrante) di cui sottoscrivo ogni singola parola per arrivare a conclusione diversa: a me il romanzo di Cline ha spalancato autostrade di riflessioni ed emozioni.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,483 reviews7,781 followers
June 22, 2016
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/


Tons of my friends received an ARC of The Girls and my feed has been filled for months with updates/reviews detailing all of the awesome they were all experiencing . . .

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Thanks for the warm welcome, John McClane, but I have a feeling you (along with everyone else) will soon be changing your tune.

Soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo, where should I begin?????? Maybe with . . .

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Wait, that’s a lie. I do know what I expected . . .

“It was like a big fucking deal. Hippies killing these people out in Marin.”

If I’m presented with a synopsis that tells me I’m going to be reading a fictional take on the ladies behind the Manson Murders, I expect something twisted that would pull a real mindfuckeroo. I wanted to meet girls like these . . . .

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What I got instead? A poor-little-rich-girl lead along with a supporting cast of characters who couldn't even be considered cardboard cutouts. They were more like shadows with zero dimension. And the story itself? NOTHING happened until the 90% mark which left a seriously angry Mitchell who looked a little something like this . . .

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(My cell phone camera broke so I had to improvise. Donations for a replacement are gladly accepted.)

This just did not work for me at all. I hated the writing style, I like stories that are fresh and if you’re going to fictionalize one of the most famous events in U.S. history at least mix things up a teeny little bit (and I mean more than famous dude who was supposed to be the target of the murder being a musician rather than a child rapist Roman Polanski or the female victim actually having a child instead of being pregnant), and most importantly THE MAIN CHARACTER SHOULD ACTUALLY BE A PART OF THE EFFING EVENT and not just tell us about “the part I imagine most.”

Save me your trolling because my “friends” already beat you to it by saying they were going to have this sent to my house for not drinking the Cline Kool-Aid . . .

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Emily is the only one of my friends who read this right like me. She is now my favorite, so there.

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley!
Profile Image for Maxwell.
1,173 reviews8,388 followers
July 17, 2016
The Girls is definitely the "it" book of the summer. Everyone's talking about it. Rumor has it the debut author got a $2 million advance. It's edgy and risqué and unapologetic.

Maybe the hype killed it for other people. And maybe their dislike of it saved me from going in with high expectations. Because I ended up really enjoying this one.

The writing is superb. There's no doubt that Emma Cline can set a scene really well. And the narration has a self-reflective quality to it that I really enjoy in first person stories.

Perhaps all that beautiful prose hangs on a pretty thin plot, ripped right out of the headlines of the 1960's. But it's compulsively readable, engaging and ultimately pretty satisfying.

And fair warning, it has some pretty adult stuff, so I wouldn't recommend this for younger readers or people who are averse to that kind of content.
Profile Image for Deanna .
691 reviews12.5k followers
January 14, 2018
3.5 Stars!!

I really enjoyed this book by Emma Cline. I wasn't sure when I picked it up what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised.

This is my second try at reviewing this after accidentally deleting everything I had typed. I almost always type in a document. Then I can save if I have to go do something else or accidentally hit the backspace button (which I'm constantly doing). Oh well, it happens. Now let's try this again....

It's the start of summer in Northern California and Evie Boyd, an average teenager is a bit lonely and bored. Her parents are splitting up, she's fighting with one of her only friends and feels like no one understands her. However, that all changes after she meets a wild and fun group of girls in the park who seem to be all about having fun and being free. She can sense an undercurrent of danger and it only makes her want to belong to this group even more.

It's not long before Evie starts to pull away from her mother, spending more time with the group especially Suzanne. Suzanne is an older girl that Evie is completely enamored with.

“No one had ever looked at me before Suzanne, not really, so she became my definition. Her gaze softening my centre so easily that even photographs of her seemed aimed at me, ignited with private meaning.”

But Evie is quickly becoming obsessed. Especially once she's been to the ranch and meets the larger than life Russell. Evie desperately wants to stay on the ranch. She feels like no one else understands her like these people do, especially Suzanne. But Evie doesn't realize how quickly things can change and soon comes the time where everything changes...in what seems like the blink of an eye.

I really didn't know how I was going to feel about this book. I really felt like it snuck up on me. There wasn't non-stop action, but there didn't need to be. The writing was great and I really liked how the story was laid out. We hear about Evie's life both back then and now. We see how it all plays out and it's fascinating. This is a well-written, intoxicating book that I won't soon forget.

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and Emma Cline for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Crumb.
189 reviews538 followers
March 24, 2018
Spine-tingling and Mind-Blowing

This was one of those books, that for whatever reason, kept getting pushed to the bottom of Mount TBR. Finally, when choosing those precious few that I would take with me on vacation, this one made the cut. Let me tell you.. I am SO glad that I did.

By now, I am sure all of you here on GR know what the plot of this book is.. so I am going to skip that.
Emma Cline focuses on character development, character development, and guess what? Yes, you guessed it! Character development. I don't mind that at all.. in fact, I prefer that. I like to be up close and personal with my protagonist while I am reading. I want to be in their mind, knowing what they are thinking, why they are acting in such a way. This book does exactly that. It follows young Evie as she gets swept up into the world of a cult. Interesting story line, right? Exactly! And to be able to understand how these girls got plucked from their secure home lives and were seamlessly integrated into that of a cult.. Mind-blowing! Needless to say, as a psychology major, I ate this book up for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Emma Cline, I bow down to you! I will read whatever you have to offer me next!
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews608 followers
March 1, 2016
Seductive from the start...mesmerizing writing and storytelling!!!!

At 14, Evie's parents have recently divorced. Her father has a new girlfriend, and her mother is dating a variety of men. Early into the story, she remembers a cocktail party her parents had thrown, ( the year before they split). The guests were her father's friends mostly. Her mother wasn't very social and hovered around the buffet table trying desperately to seek approval for the food she had prepared
Evie felt embarrassed that her mother asked her how she looked.
She was clear - and clear her mother was clear - that her father fucked anything he could.
Neither parent was paying any attention to Evie. Her best friend wasn't either. The only woman at that party who looked exciting was her dad's girlfriend. She was sexy with cool clothes. Evie knew she should hate her dad for cheating..
but Evie began to fantasize about her father with his girlfriend naked together..."with her throat circled by a ribbon, lying on some carpet in some too-small Palo Alto apartment".
We not only could see the longing Evie has for attention...but love no longer feels safe to her. She was angry at her mother - that her dad left....

Being 14, angry, and lonely, can lead one down a dangerous path. The year is also 1969...the cornerstone for drugs, sex, and rock-in-roll.
Evie gets mixed up with a cult - a singer-songwriter alluring leader. Later he manipulates his followers into a dark world of violence.

Having grown up in the Bay Area, I'm familiar with the Charles Manson and Sharon Tate story which this novel is loosely based on...
but the books strength ( besides fresh, intimate, and addictive), is the authors ability to understand teen chaotic years of vulnerability.
The author points to the fact that Evie did not know when things exactly went wrong in her life...( yet she had a close idea).
I took value from Evie's unspoken words - her inner thoughts just before she joined the cult. It's not that we haven't read about angry -sad 'coming-of-age' girls before...but Emma Cline touches on areas where many books don't go.

Emma Cline shows gutless courage - I LOVE THIS BOOK!

Thank you Random House, Netgalley, and Emma Cline!!!

Profile Image for Kelli.
851 reviews403 followers
August 21, 2016
Whaaaaaat happened?! Everybody loves this book. EV-ERY-BO-DY...except me, apparently. I waited a little over a week to write this review and I can add forgettable to the list of adjectives I would use to describe this. Though quite well-written, the story really lost momentum and felt unoriginal. I was bored and pretty grossed out. 2 stars.
Profile Image for Karen.
594 reviews1,197 followers
August 24, 2016
Great book. Took me right back to 1969. Evie was 14, I was 11, and I had a lot of the same stuff going on at home as she did. Her home life, and I think her loss of her best friend sent her searching for the feelings of inclusiveness, etc. that she found with this clan in the in the park and then onto the ranch. This was based loosely on The Manson clan. Evie tells her story from 1969 and from today as an adult. Another great debut novel..
Profile Image for Delee.
243 reviews1,135 followers
February 20, 2017
1969 California-

It was the end of the sixties, or the summer before the end, and that's what it seemed like, an endless, formless summer.

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14-year-old Evie is bored and disillusioned with her life. She has recently had a falling out with her only friend Connie, and her parents have decided to part ways. As luck would have it her grandmother left behind money from her Hollywood starlet days...and Evie's loopy, hippy, mother is able to live well because of it...but shy, lost, Evie- wants more...she desperately wants to connect with someone...anyone. So she doesn't feel so misunderstood and alone.

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While out and about she spots Suzanne, a strange and intriguing girl- and Evie makes a point of bumping into her here and there...and soon enough "fate" steps in and Suzanne spots Evie too...

...and introduces her to a place like no other she has ever known.

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When Evie arrives at the ranch- she is absolutely blown away... These people see her...they know her...they get her- and when she meets their charismatic leader- Russell- she knows this is the place she wants to be.

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As her relationship with her mother becomes more strained, Evie spends more time with her new circle of friends.

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...and the more smitten she becomes- not with Russell...but with Suzanne....

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The more rules she breaks and the more blind she is to the things happening around her. Things she doesn't want to see...

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Her new "peace and love" family is about to cross a line- and if she isn't careful- take her down with them.

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THE GIRLS (based on Charles Manson and his followers) is so much better than I expected. With a new author- there is always a chance that one will be disappointed ...not this time. This debut novel is amaaaaaaazing....and if what I read is true- Emma Cline signed a three book deal...so there are two more on the way!!! Groooooovy Baby.
Profile Image for Brandi.
634 reviews1,275 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
June 14, 2016

I wanted to love this story.


But after trying mulitple times, I think I need to put it down. The premise of this one was very intriguing, unfortunately, while I can appreciate the writing style, it simply isn't working for me. Overly poetic and wordy, I just can't anymore.
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.


DNF @ 15%

*ARC provided via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*
Profile Image for Emma Giordano.
316 reviews115k followers
November 16, 2016
4.5 Stars! I'm working on notes for a video review right now because I LOVED this book!

May add some of my thoughts here later.
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,157 followers
June 21, 2016
3.5 Stars

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.

Profile Image for Joe Valdez.
499 reviews857 followers
December 23, 2022
My "Girls Girls Girls" jag continues with The Girls, the 2016 debut novel by Emma Cline. This is a book where not much seems to happen on the surface. There isn't a lot of story in this tale of Evie Boyd, a Northern California woman whose unexpected interaction with a teenage couple compels her to recall the summer of 1969, which she spent embedded with a cult later responsible for the most notorious mass murder of the 20th century. It takes place in a parallel universe that never heard of Charles Manson or the murders that rocked Los Angeles that summer and though the story holds no surprises, the compressed space that Cline pulled me into was palpable.

Evie is introduced ten years after she burns through an inheritance left by her Hollywood starlet grandmother. She scrapes out a living as a live-in aide, her latest gig being caretaker of the vacation home of an ex-lover on a Northern California beach, more charity than work. Her routine is interrupted by the nocturnal appearance of her employer's college dropout son and a fifteen-year-old girl he's hooked up with named Sasha. The home invasion transitions from one with potential for violence to one that's loaded with post-traumatic landmines, with the teenagers asking Evie about Russell Hadrick and events of the summer of '69.

Moving back in time to when Evie was fourteen years old and growing up in Petaluma, she recalls what began as a summer living of suburban luxury. Waiting to be shipped off to boarding school in the fall, Evie lives with her mother Jean, who's on a self-improvement kick in the months since her divorce from Evie's father Carl, a businessman who traded Evie's mother for his younger secretary. Evie spends her time hanging out with her best friend Connie, whose older brother Peter piques sexual curiosity in Evie. Other forces enter Evie's orbit that summer with three long-haired girls she observes in town and describes as "royalty in exile."

The girls moved into the alley alongside the restaurant farther past the grill. Practiced and smooth. I didn't look away. The older one lifted the lid of the dumpster. The redhead bent down and the black-haired girl used her knee as a step, hoisting herself over the edge. She was looking for something inside, but I couldn't imagine what. I stood to throw away my napkins and stopped at the garbage can, watching. The black-haired girl was handing things from the dumpster to the others: a bag of bread, still in its packaging, an anemic-looking cabbage that they sniffed, then tossed back in. A seemingly well-established procedure--would they actually eat the food? When the black-haired girl emerged for the last time, climbing over the rim and slinging her weight onto the ground, she was holding something in her hands. It was a strange shape, the color of my own skin, and I edged closer.

Evie's craving for love goes unfulfilled in the suburbs, where her mother hits the singles scene, Peter rejects Evie for the open road with his pregnant girlfriend and even her best friend Connie turns cold when Evie pushes over the motorcycle of a boy her friend has designs on. Alone in a supermarket, she encounters the black-haired girl from the dumpster, ejected from the premises before she can lift a roll of toilet paper. Evie buys it for the girl, whose name is Suzanne and puts stars in Evie's eyes with the attention she directs at her. An argument with her mother over her latest beau, a gold prospector, drives Evie out of the house, where her bicycle throws its chain on a fire road.

A black bus stops to render roadside assistance. Out climbs Suzanne, who Evie has to remind where they met. Unable to fix the bike, Suzanne offers to drop the kid off in town, but a redhead named Donna invites Evie to a summer solstice party the girls are throwing. Arriving at a ranch off the highway that consists of an old wooden house, a barn, a filthy swimming pool, six llamas and "a few hollow cars in a state of disrepair," Evie hears all about Russell Hadrick before she meets him, less of a boy than the males she's been introduced before but a medicine man whose spiritual power has inspired total devotion in the girls, who live on the ranch in complete squalor.

Evie is drawn to Suzanne's charisma more than that of the blissfully zen Russell Hadrick, who eventually leads Evie into his trailer to swap sexual favors. She earns her keep by virtue of her famous grandmother and by pilfering cash for Suzanne, first from her mother's purse, later from a boy Evie promises marijuana to. The girls have fooled themselves into believing they're free and that a record deal is imminent for Russell due to the spell he's cast over a studio guitarist named Mitch Lewis, but when Russell's session goes badly, disillusionment and bitterness bubble to the surface. When Russell dispatches Suzanne and Donna to Mitch's mansion one fateful night, Evie tags along.

All Suzanne said was that we were paying Mitch a visit. Her words were spiked with a cruelty I hadn't heard before, but even so, this was the furthest my mind ranged: we were going to do what we'd done at the Dutton house. We'd perform an unsettling psychic interruption so Mitch would have to be afraid, just for a minute, would have to reorder the world anew. Good--Suzanne's hatred for him allowed and inflamed my own. Mitch, with his fat, probing fingers, the halting, meaningless chatter he kept up while looking us over. As if his mundane words would fool us, keep us from noticing how his glance dripped with filth. I wanted him to feel weak. We would occupy Mitch's house like tricky spirits from another realm.

My tallest hurdle with The Girls is how little occurs in the story. Adults with even the most casual grip on history will recognize the pieces emulating those of the Manson Family, and Cline's decision to introduce Evie as an adult throws water on any burning suspense that something bad might happen to her in flashbacks. Readers expecting thrills or chills are better off finding a copy of Helter Skelter. I'm recommending the novel on the strength of Cline's writing, which aches with the endless search for approval and the black keys that sound discordant notes from one's past. The title represents the novel well.

Poor Sasha. Poor girls. The world fattens them on the promise of love. How badly they need it, and how little most of them will ever get. The treacled pop songs, the dresses described in the catalogs with words like "sunset" and "Paris." Then the dreams are taken away with such violent force; the hand wrenching the buttons of the jeans, nobody looking at the man shouting at his girlfriend on the bus. Sorrow for Sasha locked up my throat.

As deficient as The Girls is in narrative, Cline's decision to frame the novel with an adult Evie, drifting, wanting and still jumping at the sounds of a doorknob turning in the night is potent. The thoughts and feelings she communicates balance what story or characters do not. Reviewers have mentioned the negative portrayal of men in the book, but for that to mean anything, there would need to be a positive portrayal of women and this isn't the case either. In Cline's imagination, it was as if the Sixties was a dream that everyone involved woke up from harshly, with a lingering hangover. It's terrific stuff.
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,606 reviews5,989 followers
April 15, 2016
Damn, this is a great book. (I'm using several quotes from the book just because this Emma Cline can write her ass off.)

Evie Boyd, is fourteen years old in the sixties. Her parents recently divorced and her dad is living in a small apartment with a much younger woman and her mom is trying out finding herself and trying out for a new husband.
So Evie disagrees with her best friend and is just lost. Until she meets Suzanne. Suzanne is cool and otherworldly, she talks about the farm that she and others live on as if it's heaven on earth..and she talks about Russell.
There it was again, their wonder at Russell, their certainty. I was jealous of that trust, that someone else could stitch the empty parts of your life together so you felt there was a net under you, linking each day to the next.

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Evie starts hanging out at the ranch more and more..falling more in love with not Russell but Suzanne.
It took me a moment to process this idea that parents didn't have the right. It suddenly seemed blaringly true. My mother didn't own me just because she had given birth to me. Sending me to boarding school because the spirit moved her. Maybe this was a better way, even though it seemed alien. To be part of this amorphous group, believing love could come from any direction. So you wouldn't be disappointed if not enough came from the direction you'd hoped.
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Evie knows Suzanne isn't necessarily a good person but she is compelled to still seek her attention and approval..and when she is around him Russell's also. It's hard to wrap your mind around how people can have that much control of someone but this book does it brilliantly.
No one had ever looked at me before Suzanne, not really, so she had become my definition. Her gaze softening my center so easily that even photographs of her seemed aimed at me, ignited with private meaning.
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I told myself there were things I didn't understand. I recycled the words I'd heard Russell speak before, fashioned them into an explanation. Sometimes he had to punish us in order to show his love. He hadn't wanted to do it, but he had to keep us moving forward, for the good of the group. It had hurt him, too.

Cline takes you into the group as that fourteen year old and the thing is?!?! This book doesn't move super fast and have something happening every minute and I still could not put it down. The whole creepy feeling that you knew was building just gripped me and I need a beer now. I need a beer anyways but still.
The only thing about this book is the fact now that I'm pissed because it's over.

ETA: I just saw that the film rights to this book went nuts before it's release..I'm ordering a hard copy. Because fangirl.

Booksource: Netgalley in exchange for review

Palm Springs commercial photography

I saw Shayne's review pop up on my feed and it was freaking awesome and reminded me "Hey ding dong, you have that book." Thanks Shayne!

Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,992 followers
October 2, 2016
I am a little torn on this one - there was some good stuff and some not so good stuff. I was not blown away by the book, but I am not sad I read it.

My favorite part was the characters. Something about them was interesting in a can't-take-my-eyes-away-from-this-train-wreck sort of way. As the book progressed I kept waiting for them to make more and more unfortunate decisions and it was entertaining.

My biggest criticism was the forced feeling to the exposition. It felt like the author was given the assignment to write the back story of one of the Manson girls and she only did an okay job. Kind of like she was saying "okay, now I will describe what she likes to eat. Next I will describe what she likes to read. Etc."

Also, the sexuality throughout kinda felt over the top and unnecessary. I know this was the era of free love, but I didn't really need to know that every character was randomly masturbating every few minutes. I have no issues when it makes sense, but this felt like "let me shock you!"

Not sure who I would recommend this to so I am not sure I would recommend it, but it was okay.
Profile Image for Jen CAN.
506 reviews1,488 followers
September 28, 2016
Be prepared to be disturbed.
It's 1969 - a cultural revolution is taking place involving drugs, sex, free love and rock n roll.
It's also a dark period when a charismatic Charles Manson lures in young girls who are desperately seeking attention and wanting to feel part of something, as warped as it may be, into a brainwashed world of deceit, poverty, sex, drugs and murder.
Evie, now in her 50's, is reflecting back on the days when she was 14 and became part of the cult whose horrific crimes left a mark on American history. That summer, having developed a girl crush on a member, brought her onto the fringe of the sordid Manson group and a time in her life she will never be able to put behind her.
Cline's writing is superb for a debut. This is one read that will sit uncomfortably with me even as a work of fiction. Solid 4 ⭐️
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,065 reviews1,475 followers
May 26, 2020
First Read: June 2016, Rating: 5/5 stars
Second Read: March 2020, Rating: 5/5 stars

This is historical fiction at its finest! This book aroused not just a keen sense of character and setting with its evocative imagery and poignant writing, but an entire era; an entire generation of people that are now almost lost to the world!

This is the story of the dark underworld of the 'swinging 60s', so revered in both memory and passed down recollection. This is the story of what happens when freedom is brought to a world with little conception of what can happen when that freedom is tested to its limits. This is the story of Evie Boyd: representative of a generation of those who slipped through the gaps.

The dark, disturbing and often sexual undertones of this book were penned with such a grace and beauty as to bring light to what would otherwise be an amphibological read. This compelled me from the beginning and that had as much to do with the fast-paced plot and flawed, yet real, character creation as it was to do with the allure of the writing that I felt reverberate in my heart with each well-placed phrase.

This book is a heart-wrenching story, no denying, but there was beauty present in amongst the bitterness and chaos. There was, although ill-gained and perilous, the joy experienced at the first taste of freedom. The allure of female friendship, both obsessive and life-saving, were explored. Relationships, in their conception and elimination, were often linked to the birth and death of another. Joy and pain, disaster and success - all emotions are inexplicably linked to their binary here as none can exist in its extremes without the presence of its other.

For each shadowy corner of history this book excavated, it did so with a light that illuminated the darkness within. The unfathomable depths this book dives to is beyond my feeble powers to put into words. It is as dark as it is beautiful and as powerful as it is sublime. The term unputdownable finally has its definition.
Profile Image for Esil.
1,118 reviews1,363 followers
June 7, 2016
A very solid 4 stars. The Girls is loosely based on the Charles Manson cult group and murders in the US in 1969. The story is told from Evie's perspective in two timelines -- at age 14 when she collided with the group and in her later adult years as she thinks back on that part of her life. Emma Cline -- a debut novelist -- does a great job getting into Evie's head -- depicting what could possibly attract a 14 year old to such a squalid and miserable group. Although she comes from a relatively wealthy background, there is a lot missing in Evie's life -- like parents who give a sh*t, and who might help Evie find a moral compass and a sense of boundaries. It's also interesting to see what happens to adult Evie -- she seems to have found footing on more solid ground, but she is still very much defined by her past. If you choose to read The Girls, don't expect a light read -- I felt like it took me to some pretty bleak places and head spaces -- feelings that I'm having trouble shaking -- and there's not much in the way of redemption by the end. Cline is very talented, and I would definitely look out for her next book. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.
Profile Image for Melanie.
Author 7 books1,216 followers
May 21, 2016
“I don’t know which is more amazing, Emma Cline’s understanding of human beings or her mastery of language.”—Mark Haddon, New York Times bestselling author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

I don't want to be here...
But this is so well written...
But I really don't want to be here.
But this is so incredibly well written.

This was roughly the ongoing internal dialogue taking place in my head while reading "The Girls".

I have always found certain subject matters difficult to handle. They seem to trigger something in my gut that is akin to raw, prehistoric fear. They make me nauseous. Random and irrational acts of violence, violence towards children, extreme cruelty, rape. To name a few. I could never get past the first five minutes of "A Clockwork Orange". Yes, I know. And I think Kubrick is a genius. I still can't get myself to read "A Little Life". I haven't fully given up on it. One day.

The Charles Manson killings are another example of something I cannot stomach. The visual imagining of those events is a place I do not want to visit if I can help it. So a novel loosely based around them is not friendly territory for me.

And yet. This novel is irresistible for its extraordinary craft. The prose is nervous and electric, the sentences crisp and crystalline. You can almost taste the rot and the waste in this summer from hell. The young (and old) narrator's voice is something to behold. Haunting. Fragile. Her senses in full bloom. Her awakening to the world potent and fascinating. Her presence is undeniable. She carries the story with an uncanny sense of innocence and gloom.

Emma Cline is an amazing new voice on the literary scene and I will follow her works with keen interest. But I really, really didn't want to be here.
Profile Image for Cindy.
407 reviews116k followers
August 10, 2017
An enchanting and haunting novel with some of the loveliest writing I've read. Cline does a great job at injecting an eerie tone in the slow summer days of the story. Her portrayal of the troubled female psyche is honest and at times heartbreaking. It's bittersweet and raw, and talks about all the ugly things of female adolescence wrapped up in pretty words.
Profile Image for Wayne Barrett.
Author 3 books107 followers
May 19, 2017

"Connie studied me with cold wonder, like I'd betrayed her, and maybe I had. I'd done what we were not supposed to do. Illuminated a slice of private weakness, exposed the twitchy rabbit heart."

When I first saw a review for this book I thought it was about The Charles Manson Family. It is not, but in essence, it is almost exactly the same story. Only names have been altered and events slightly altered as well. Still, it piqued my interest enough that I wanted to read it because of a story my mom told me just this year. And I will get to that later.

I thought this was a great book. If I could find a weakness it would be that there are a few times that the story lagged. But even those lags gave more anticipation to the build up of the climax. Emma let me know what was coming. She dangled it before me with an expertise tease. And even though I knew what was coming the punch was overwhelming. I can see where some might not agree with me, but the reason the build up and the ending worked so well for me is because of the creative, powerful writing of the author.

Obviously, stating that the story is a parallel to the Manson story, it's not hard to figure out the plot-line. What stood out in this story was one particular girl, Evie Boyd and her journey from the life of an average 14 year old girl into the environs of a charismatic leader whose downward spiral is poisoning the group and leading them on a path of murder and self destruction.

I felt like this book relayed the perspective of a young woman in a way that I have never read before. I raised three daughters and was always open and close to them all, but let's face it, I'm a man. There are some things in which I will never be able to relate. It's like someone who has never had a bad headache telling a migraine sufferer that they understand. No, you don't!

There were some other things about this story that drew me in in a personal way. For one thing, I was born and raised around Bakersfield California ( the city mentioned at the end of the book where Helen makes her confession). It is a desert area that sits at the bottom of I-5, also known as the Grapevine. It was an area the Manson family journeyed through during their nomadic travels.

When the Tate, LaBianca murders took place, it seemed close to home, so I still remember fear running through the locals. Doors and windows were locked and us kids were watched extra close. And then there's the story my mom told me while I was there earlier this year to bury my dad.

My mom and dad had been divorced for a long time. They separated about a year before the murders. When I went through my dads belongings I came across a photograph of my cousin (who is also serving a life sentence for murder) standing next to Charles Manson. the picture intrigued me, so I took it to moms house to show her and that was when she told me about her encounter. Like many of us adults, we forget that there are a lot of things our kids don't know about or remember that are common memories to us.

My mom worked at a little restaurant called The Ranch House which sits at the bottom of The Grapevine. It's one of those places where, if you don't stop, you won't see another for many miles. It was a popular stopping place for people coming to and from L.A. I remember my mom taking me with her a few times and I ran around the place like I was at home. One couple that stopped in about once a week on their way to and from doing business, and my mom and the other employees knew them well because of their frequent stops, were the LaBiancas.

Mom told me that one day a man and some girls came in and they stood out to her because they seemed happy, singing, dancing and because they were obviously hippies. Not that being hippies bothered my mom. After all, my mom and dad were hippies. She said that they seemed friendly and that when they were leaving, the man paused at the door with a couple of the girls talking with them. He left and then the girls approached my mom and asked her to come with them. Of course she declined. She had two small children at home.

Mom said she remembered hearing that they captured the murderers from the Tate-LaBianca case and that as soon as she saw their picture on the news she said "Oh, my god, those were the people who came into the Ranch House and invited me to go with them." She said there was no mistaking Charles Mansons face as the man who had come in with the girls that day.

I've wondered since she told me about the encounter, even more so now that I've read this book, what went through my moms mind when those care-free people asked her to leave her job and come fly with them. Mom was a newly divorced, beautiful young woman... and yes, she was a partying girl in a 60's era. We all have our strengths and our weaknesses. I could imagine the weakness of temptation tugging at the part of my mom that wanted to be set free and live wild. But mom was strong. I can only begin to guess at what all she sacrificed because she had two kids depending on her. She was strong. Because she was a girl.

I love you mom.

Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
3,005 reviews10.6k followers
August 5, 2016
When Evie Boyd's parents get divorced, she falls in with a bad group of girls, all following a would-be musician named Russel. Evie finds herself drawn to their lifestyle of living free and doing drugs, and particularly finds herself drawn to Suzanne. Will Evie come to her senses before she goes down a road she can never come back from?

The Girls is a story inspired by the infamous murder of Sharon Tate by followers of Charles Manson. Instead of a gore-strewn crime book, it's more about one girl's fall from grace after falling in with a cult. Evie Boyd is only fourteen when she meets The Girls and winds up living at the ranch. Her fascination with Suzanne leads her down a grim path, a path with murder at its end.

Anyone with a passing familiarity with Charles Manson knows where the book is heading from the start and Evie, in the framing thread, hints at it pretty heavily. Knowing there's going to be a horrible crash doesn't make it any easier to turn away from an impending car crash.

Emma Cline writes with literary flourish, painting an interesting picture of a girl who wants to belong and wants to be loved. Watching her get ensnared in the spider's web was a little painful at times. In the end, she has the right choice chosen for her but never seems to get her life back on track after that.

I'm not really sure how to rate this book. While it's generally well written, it feels over-written at times for what it is.

Overall, The Girls is a good read but I don't think it's going to set the world on fire. It's a solid three out of five stars. Of the 1,244 books put out this year with the world "Girl" in the title, it's definitely in the top 50.
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