Margin Notes: The Girls

The Girls

by Emma Cline

Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong. 

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don't quite know what I was expecting from this book, but not this. And this was a brilliant distillation of girlhood ripe with insightful thoughts about insecurities, disillusionment, the ache to belong to something, loneliness, anger, frustration, fear, loss, starry-eyed worship, disillusionment, and coming of age.

First, this book was incredibly well-written. Emma Cline's language is spot-on. She illustrates feelings, moods, and moments so well that you feel both like you're there, and feel nostalgic for your coming of age because she's so specific in her wonderful descriptions.

Second, I loved how this book was both a character study and plot-driven. The main character, Evie, is somewhat unlikable but her struggle of isolation, anger, and the path to growing up is something most people will be able to relate to. Since the book is loosely based on the Manson Murders, I knew what was coming plot-wise, but the pace felt good--I could tell I was speeding up my reading as we came to the crescendo of the (view spoiler)

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