The Girls – Emma Cline

Jul 30

The Girls – Emma Cline

Emma Cline’s debut novel skillfully reimagines Charles Manson and his young impressionable acolytes in The Girls. The story is expertly told from 14-year old Evie Boyd’s point of view. Cline truly captures the awkwardness of that particular age; Evie is still a girl in myriad ways, but she is in possession of a woman’s body. “That was part of being a girl-you were resigned to whatever feedback you’d get. If you got mad, you were crazy, and if you didn’t react, you were a bitch.” You could not pay me enough money to go through middle school again.

Evie’s parents divorce and a fight with her best friend leave her feeling lonely and discarded. Enter Suzanne. Suzanne is everything Evie wishes to be; she is mature, gorgeous, and she moves through the world seemingly without care. Suzanne introduces Evie to her friends at a local ranch; they take care of everything themselves and do a crapload of drugs. The leader of this gang is Russell; a charismatic would-be musician who runs the ranch with a quiet, menacing, yet loving way. It was ten kinds of uncomfortable to read the sex scenes involving minors.

We all know the Manson story, so you know none of this ends well. The story adeptly bounces back and forth between that fateful summer of 1969 and Evie’s current, lackluster, shadow-filled life. A young girl, Sasha, is introduced in the now; I only wish that Evie’s could have imparted some wisdom upon her.

This tragic tale showcases all of the ways that being a follower and wanting to feel important and belong can sometimes end horribly.

“I knew just being a girl in the world handicapped your ability to believe yourself.”

I see that most of the Manson gals are still in prison, 40 some years later.
Fathers, please take care of your daughters.

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