What I read
The Girls by Emma Cline
What it’s about
This debut novel follows 14-year-old Evie Boyd during the summer of 1969 when she is drawn to a group of girls—and one in particular—who belong to a cult. The story is inspired by the Manson family and the murders they committed, but it’s about more than that: Most notably it’s a story about teenage loneliness—of wanting to be seen by someone, anyone—and it explores the dynamic of female relationships.
How I got my hands on it
The Girls came up in conversation at work. When I mentioned I was interested in reading it, a coworker was nice enough to lend me her copy.
Things I liked
All I really knew about this book before I read it was that it was about a young girl who joins a cult and that it was inspired by the Manson family. That premise intrigued me. But I didn’t expect that I would enjoy Cline’s style of writing as much as I did. While she may have overdone it in places, many of her metaphors and descriptions were beautiful.
The structure of the book is also worth mentioning. The story interweaves the present—where a middle-aged Evie reflects on the past—with the summer of 1969. The parts of the book that take place in the present are not as interesting or as powerful as the parts that take place in the past, but Cline gets the balance right. And when we are in those present-day sections, Evie feeds us tidbits of details of what ends up happening, providing bait that I eagerly bit into.
You’ll want to read it if…
If, like me, you’re fond of coming-of-age stories, you’ll like this book. This is also a good read if you’re someone who likes psychological books—if you like to try to get into the mind of someone who does something you can’t fathom.
And if you’re avoiding it because of its gruesome inspiration, I’d ask you to reconsider. The story is really more about searching for identity, looking for a place to belong and trying to connect with another person.
The first thing that comes to mind is a tall glass of OJ. This might be partly because of the California setting, but there are a few mentions of orange juice in the book. Granted, usually it’s mentioned to remark upon its absence (someone going to get orange juice but not bringing it back, a description of a splash of OJ in a glass filled with vodka). Maybe that’s symbolic of the absence of sunshiny optimism, or the disappearance of the innocence of youth. Or maybe I’m giving it too much thought. In any case, the pot of Earl Grey tea seen in the above photo suited me just fine, so that’s an option, too.