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Archive: Other Books > The Girls by Emma Cline

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message 1: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1545 comments 3 stars
My full review can be found on our blog: https://thereadersroom.org/2016/06/14...

I had been looking forward to this novel all year and it kills me that I didn't love it. The Girls is perhaps the most anticipated novel of the year. It was definitely the most hyped novel at BookExpo America. I was lucky enough to snag a review copy from netgalley than I also picked up a signed copy at the BEA, where I also meet the author.

The Girls is loosely (and I mean very loosely) based on the Manson family girls. Set in 1969, it is about a young teenager, Evie, who becomes enamored with the group of girls who are part of this commune led by the charismatic male figure.

The novel alternates time periods with an adult Evie reminiscing about her teenage years with the cult in 1969. It is a psychological novel and the focus is NOT on the crime or the inner workings of the cult. It is almost exclusively about Evie, her state of mind, and what drove her to seek comfort with the group of girls.

I thought it was good but not amazing. Cline uses lots of sentence fragments and at times I thought it was overwritten. The tone is very dreamlike and reminded me of The Virgin Suicides (just not as good). I think it's a promising debut but I felt let down. I do think Cline is masterful in getting inside the head of a 14 year old in the late 1960s.


message 2: by Ladyslott (new)

Ladyslott | 1880 comments Mmmm. I have this on hold at the library. I was looking forward to it, since I was a teen at the time of the murders and thought this was about the Manson girls. Since I didn't buy it I may give it a shot anyway.


message 3: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1545 comments Linda S wrote: "Mmmm. I have this on hold at the library. I was looking forward to it, since I was a teen at the time of the murders and thought this was about the Manson girls. Since I didn't buy it I may give it..."

I'm pretty sure that you will like it more than I did. I would encourage you to read it and my guess is you will rate it highly. I will be curious to see your review.


message 4: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7692 comments I am not even tempted to read this one, but I think Linda will really enjoy it! I was not even close to being alive in the 60's and have a hard time relating to stories set in the 60s and 70s. I tend to enjoy them less than books set in other decades.

I am not sure what it is; perhaps it is just that weird time where it is close enough to when I grew up that the slight differences in technology, society, etc. annoy me more than intrigue me?

I really don't know. I do like civil rights books set during that time.


message 5: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1545 comments Nicole wrote: "I am not even tempted to read this one, but I think Linda will really enjoy it! I was not even close to being alive in the 60's and have a hard time relating to stories set in the 60s and 70s. I te..."

yes, I agree. I think she should read it. I also wasn't born yet so the significance of the time frame was much less relevant for me. In contrast, I love to read books set in the 80s.


message 6: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1545 comments although I like reading books set in the 19th century so now that I think about it, the time setting isn't necessarily a factor for me in enjoyment of books


message 7: by Nicole D. (new)

Nicole D. | 1476 comments If one more person says "I wasn't born yet" I'm going to scream.

Kidding. I think I'll still try this


message 8: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1545 comments Nicole wrote: "If one more person says "I wasn't born yet" I'm going to scream.

Kidding. I think I'll still try this"



Lol! True, I apologize. That was obnoxious :)


message 9: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1545 comments Jen wrote: "Nicole wrote: "If one more person says "I wasn't born yet" I'm going to scream.

Kidding. I think I'll still try this"


Lol! True, I apologize. That was obnoxious :)"


And, I would recommend you read it. I think you may like it


message 10: by Joi (new)

Joi (missjoious) | 3782 comments I think I still want to try reading this. The part that fascinates me most is the delving into the cult and the cult itself-which it sounds like is a main focus in the book. I don't know much about the Manson family murders, so I have a feeling either before or after I start to read it a lot of googling will happen to find out the real story.


message 11: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1545 comments Joi wrote: "I think I still want to try reading this. The part that fascinates me most is the delving into the cult and the cult itself-which it sounds like is a main focus in the book. I don't know much about..."

I think you should read it. You and I have pretty different tastes in books so you may end up loving it. I will say that it's not about delving into the cult. In my opinion, the cult serves as the backdrop. There's no real explanation of it's existence or real in depth look at it. The book is more psychological study of an adolescent girl who feels alienated from friends and family


message 12: by Margaret (new)

Margaret (margarette) | 292 comments I think even those of you who weren't born yet at the time of the Manson murders would like the non-fiction account - Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders I read it in the early 1970s when it first came out, but I do remember that I couldn't put it down and knowing that it was true scared me to death.


message 13: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5632 comments Nicole wrote: "If one more person says "I wasn't born yet" I'm going to scream.

Kidding. I think I'll still try this"


So .. on the 25th anniversary of JFK's assassination my family members were all talking at dinner about what we were doing when we heard the news. At one point I realized my youngest brother wasn't saying anything, so I asked him. He said he didn't remember. I pressed, "How could you not remember!?!" He answered: "I wasn't born yet." (He was born in 1964.)


message 14: by Anita (new)

Anita Pomerantz | 6276 comments Margarette wrote: "I think even those of you who weren't born yet at the time of the Manson murders would like the non-fiction account - Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders I read it in..."

I really do want to read this book despite Jen's lukewarm review, but I really, really want to endorse Margarette's suggested read of Helter Skelter . . .which is truly gripping as all get out.


message 15: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1545 comments Anita- I think you may like it more than I did but I'm not sure. It's not the fact that is based (very loosely) on the Manson family that I refer to when I talk about age/time period. I do I fact find it a compelling (in a horrific way) event that is interesting to explore from a psychological perspective -about what makes people do such things.
For me, this book is more about a very specific time and I think the author captures the overall atmosphere of the time period very well (despite the fact that she wasn't born then). So I think people who were adolescents during that time period will connect with the book more than I did.

My main problem with the book isn't the time period but rather that it was intended as a psychological exploration of a specific girl and why she becomes drawn into the cult/commune. I find the premise theoretically interesting but in practice found it lacking. I thought she captures the voice of a teen well but I found it lacked sophistication in terms of motivations. Lots of girls have parents who are absent but they don't then go on killing sprees. There is no explanation as to why the Manson character is so compelling and very little in the way of exploration of why the other girls need to join urge cult.


message 16: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1545 comments Sorry for typos-writing on my phone app


message 17: by Ladyslott (new)

Ladyslott | 1880 comments Anita wrote: "Margarette wrote: "I think even those of you who weren't born yet at the time of the Manson murders would like the non-fiction account - [book:Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders|1..."

One of the best books written about the murders.


message 18: by Anita (new)

Anita Pomerantz | 6276 comments Jen wrote: "Anita- I think you may like it more than I did but I'm not sure. It's not the fact that is based (very loosely) on the Manson family that I refer to when I talk about age/time period. I do I fact f..."

Hmmm, it definitely sounds like there are some serious weaknesses. I'm going to hold off for a bit to see what others think. I like psychological type novels, but of course if they aren't well done . . .maybe not.


message 19: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1545 comments I want you all to read it because I'm died to see what you think. I can't wait to see other PBT reviews! I think Cline is really talented and there are aspects of the book that are brilliant but I personally feel like this was very clearly a debut novel.


message 20: by Anita (new)

Anita Pomerantz | 6276 comments My friend is reading it now, and if I can borrow her copy, then it may get read regardless!


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