Ethan's Reviews > The Girls

The Girls by Emma Cline
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's review
Jan 03, 2017

really liked it

"Break down the self, offer yourself up like dust to the universe."

Evie Boyd's life is in a kind of crisis. A teenager towards the end of the 1960's, she has few friends and her parents have gotten a divorce. While her dad chases younger women, her mother falls for loser after loser. Evie finds herself a stranger in her own home.

All of that changes when she sees a mysterious group of girls at the park. She is drawn to the carefree and unconventional way the girls dress and carry themselves. To Evie, the girls represent everything that is missing from her life. She quickly becomes enthralled by the older girl of the group, Suzzane, who accepts her as part of their gang.

Evie's obsession is only amplified by her parent's disapproval of her new friends. When she finally goes to the group's ranch and meets their enigmatic leader Russell, Evie makes up her mind. These are the only people who understand her. She belongs at the ranch. Intoxicated by her life at the ranch, Evie may be too blind to see the dark undercurrent to Russell and his followers. Blinded by the youthful bliss of acceptance, Evie finds herself under the influence of a cult about to exact unimaginable violence.

The Girls is a brilliant debut novel by author Emma Cline. Since Cline sold her manuscript for a reported 2 million dollars, the book has been the subject of persistent hype. Such buzz nearly takes away from the achievement of this work. I went into the novel expecting a salacious retelling of the Manson Family crimes, but The Girls is more of a quiet coming of age story that just happens to be framed around this point in history. Cline uses the notoriety of these cult driven crimes to create an ever present tension to the novel. The novel alternates between the story of young Evie succumbing to the influence of the group with that of an older Evie recollecting on her nearly tragic youth. While I feel that the practice of alternating narratives has become too overused in modern literature, Cline masterfully manages these changes. The Girls may have been overshadowed by the hype that surrounded it, but that doesn't take away from the fact that this is a remarkable read and extremely promising debut.
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Reading Progress

November 30, 2016 – Shelved
November 30, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
December 31, 2016 – Started Reading
January 3, 2017 – Finished Reading

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