The Girls, by Emma Cline
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (June 14, 2016)
Reading Sara Rating: 9/10
Reading Sara Review: If you are an active reader, I’m sure you have heard about The Girls. Often when a book is so praised and is on all of the “must read this summer” book lists, I am a bit hesitant (though in the end, I added it to my Summer Reading Part 1 list). I felt let down by some of those previously (Fates & Furies, The Interestings, and Girls on Fire, to name a few). Fellow readers: this one is different. The Girls is excellent.
There is no doubt that cults have an allure that’s hard to explain or comprehend. The close-knit group, living on the fringe of society, the leader, the danger that feels like freedom- books like this are bound to popular because of that initial enticement. But The Girls will be popular because it is good.
Emma Cline takes the reader deep into the mind of Evie, the narrator of the story who is caught up in something that she doesn’t yet understand, her 14-year-old brain not able to comprehend. But Evie can’t resist the seductive appeal of Suzanne, a person that Evie desperately wants to be (untethered, appealing, devoted to something). It is the late 1960s after all – and Evie wants to be carefree, pretty, and paid attention to by her parents.
This book is dark, but not scary. There are some gruesome details that I don’t recommend for those weary of that type of narrative. Cline’s writing is beautiful – vivid, descriptive, and meaningful. You get the impression that not one sentence was completed without incredible thought.
My personal fascination with cults began with Kelly Taylor on Beverly Hills 90210, who famously joins a cult with a creepy psychology professor. After that, I would follow some stories on the news when a cult came up, but for me, it is just a moderate fascination. And as only an average fascination, I do not know too much about Charles Manson, but it is clear that this story, while fictional, has many parallels to Manson and his “family.”
How does one find themselves in a cult? Is it the connection to a person, a group, that isn’t felt anywhere else in their lives? For Evie, is it a darkness that existed all along? Or a loneliness? Or a fear? Cline leaves the reader with many questions about Evie – which is why this would make an excellent Book Club book discussion. I highly recommend it!