The Girls by Emma Cline
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book was recommended to me by a friend who also started reading it around the same time. I admit I had never heard of it as it’s outside of my usual genres. I’m glad I picked it up though!
Like most stories involving cults I had a pretty good idea what to expect and where it was going (I went into this story completely blind.) That didn’t really bother me though as the outcome wasn’t the point and the main character made mention of it fairly early in the book. I really enjoyed the main character and experiencing the events from her perspective. I never once felt bored or the need to skim or skip ahead.
My only real issue I had was that I wish there was a little bit more included in the story. I would have liked to see a bit more of the main character’s involvement after the climax of events. For instance, her interactions with the authorities and things like that near the end.
Full Review with Spoilers
At the point in which we enter the story, the main character Evie is a grown woman living quietly with her past. And what a sordid past it was. We relive the events through Evie telling her story with flashbacks and discussions with teenagers she meets early in the story. Evie is well known for the events in the late 1960s and early 1970s she was involved in.
This story is very HEAVILY influenced by the Manson cult happenings. The focus, however, is on Evie. Evie is a young girl who falls victim to the pull of life in the commune, primarily due to her infatuation with another member Suzanne. Her infatuation borders on romantic, but rests more so in an admiration Evie feels toward the older girl. As expected, drugs, sex, and crime are rampant in the story and Evie is not immune to the involment.
By now, most of us are pretty familiar with the Manson murders and this book covers very close to these events. It’s getting to see it from the perspective of someone involved, but still an outsider that makes the story unique. Throughout the book, Evie desperately wants to be accepted, be closer to Suzanne and be part of something so new and exotic to her. In the end, though, she remains just outside enough to be shunned from the murders that end up bringing about the end of the commune.
I really enjoyed the ambiguity of this end. We never really know if Suzanne forced Evie out because she cared about her or if Suzanne never really wanted her there in the first place. As we see adult Evie in her current, almost boring life years after, it’s hard not to care deeply for her and be happy she has the life she has as opposed to the alternative.
I greatly enjoyed Evie as a character. She was flawed and relatable. I found her to be a good choice as our catalyst through the story. I do wish there had been a bit more information about Evie after the murders took place. It was made apparent that at some point she was questioned and the fact she was a part of the cult became public knowledge. I would have liked to have seen a bit more of that.