Title: The Girls
Author: Emma Cline
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Publication Date: June 14, 2016
Source: Netgalley, ebook
The first thing that came to mind when I read the blurb was how strikingly similar this story is to The Manson Murders of the late 1960s. Then I read an article on Vulture where it stated that Cline based her novel on that event. Well, I like to state the obvious.
During the summer of 1969, Evie Boyd is a curious 14-year-old. Basically abandoned by her despondent mother and absentee father who ran off with his secretary, she’s left to her own devices. From across a park one day, she’s fascinated by exhibitionist teen girls and follows them to the parking lot of a grocery store. As they dumpster dive for rotting meat, vegetables, and bread, the author is juxtaposing just how privileged Evie’s life is as opposed to those girls (who turn out to be members of a cult). Suzanne, the most brazen of them all, convinces Evie to return to the compound and eventually help support them by stealing money. The group wants her because Evie seems to be the most grounded in reality. Everyone else has been part of the cult for too long to know differently. The question that I asked myself throughout, “Can she escape? Does she want to?”
Despite this being one of the most anticipated books of summer 2016 on too many websites to count, it wasn’t my favourite. I found that the story dragged and I was tempted to skip ahead at times (but I didn’t). Cline could’ve cut out the part of Evie as an adult entirely and I doubt it would’ve effected the plot much or at all. Also, I was surprised to find Suzanne to be the most intriguing and interesting character. Even more so than Evie. Suzanne is the most involved young woman in the cult – she is backed by the cult leader and seems to be the most independent. However, towards the end she has a conscious regarding her fellow cult member. What I liked about The Girls was the closeness between Suzanne and Evie and the mysteriousness around the cult’s purpose. Those plot lines were entertaining and a speedy read.
Overall, I would recommend The Girls because everyone is going to be reading it and talking about it this summer!
Have you read The Girls yet? Is it on your summer reading list? What do you think of it?