California. The summer of 1969. In the dying days of a floundering counter-culture a young girl is unwittingly caught up in unthinkable violence, and a decision made at this moment, on the cusp of adulthood, will shape her life….
Evie Boyd is desperate to be noticed. In the summer of 1969, empty days stretch out under the California sun. The smell of honeysuckle thickens the air and the sidewalks radiate heat.
Until she sees them. The snatch of cold laughter. Hair, long and uncombed. Dirty dresses skimming the tops of thighs. Cheap rings like a second set of knuckles. The girls.
And at the centre, Russell. Russell and the ranch, down a long dirt track and deep in the hills. Incense and clumsily strummed chords. Rumours of sex, frenzied gatherings, teen runaways.
Was there a warning, a sign of things to come? Or is Evie already too enthralled by the girls to see that her life is about to be changed forever.
I picked this book up randomly on a shopping trip one day and I went into it completely blind and I’m so glad I did. This book was such an amazing ride and really impacted the way I think about some things. The incidents written about in this book seem somewhat based on the Manson family and the murders they committed, the musical cult leader and the ranch and other things are pretty identical to the real events. It almost feels like Emma Cline created a character to insert into the Manson family to act as a fly on the wall. Evie, our protagonist is an amazing character, flawed and sometimes unlikable but underneath it all a decent person who is desperate for some form of affection which leads her to getting involved with a group she wouldn’t normally associate with. She is initially drawn in by Suzanne, a wild, carefree girl who Evie instantly falls in love with and in some aspects you can understand why. Suzanne is Evie’s complete opposite in some aspects, she’s wild, carefrree and doing what she wants with her life without the societal expectations and responsibilities that bind Evie.. Emma Cline perfectly describes the pull that Evie feels from this unique group of people who seem to want her to be a part of them, it’s like a really messed up family and the tight familial bond is something Evie has always wanted.
The cast of characters is like those in most books in that they’re varied and interesting but they come with a slightly sinister twist as from the beginning you know what they are capable of doing and you can’t quite get attached to them because of this despite growing to like them. It was interesting to read about the different relationships between the members themselves and also their relationships with Russell, their leader. Some of the characters really intrigued me such as Roos and her son and I wish we were able to find out more about them as individuals before they were captured under Russell’s spell. The Girls is one of those books where you just want to reach into the pages and snap them all out of it as you can see how easily they’re being manipulated whilst they’re unable to. I also enjoyed the snippets of older Evie as it gives the reader a chance to understand how much Evie was changed by the cult and how it changed her life forever.
I was slightly disappointed with the ending though which is why I gave it 4 stars as I really wanted something to resolve the plot or at least give Evie some closure. Despite this I did really enjoy this book and Emma Cline’s writing is addictive and engrossing, I’ll definitely pick up whatever she writes in the future!
Thanks for reading! 🙂