For Christmas I received a number of art and fiction books, one of which was The Girls by Emma Cline.
I had heard about this book previously and it kept popping up on my Goodreads so I was incredibly excited to read it and it didn’t disappoint.
The Girls is a tense and exciting book based on Charles Manson and the Manson family. It follows Evie Boyd, a 14 year old girl looking for something more in her life during the summer if ’69 in California. In the park she first sets eyes on The Girls and soon she becomes involved in their lives at the Ranch.
The ranch is new and would probably be extremely depressing to most but Evie is young and impressionable and extremely taken by one particular girl, Suzanne.
Evie speaks of her immediate admiration of Suzanne which develops beautifully over the course of the book. It reminds me of when I was at school and I would look up to specific teachers although the age difference was not as great. Throughout the book this relationship develops much further and becomes much more intimate. Cline makes clear that Suzanne has almost a bewitching effect on Evie.
Cline has taken details from the Manson story and added them to her own but her imagination is great. She captures the mind of a 14 year old girl well and the light hearted nature of summer at that age however the book has a dark undertone set by Russel, leader of the Ranch. Russel creates a darkness that looms over the ranch. Despite the lack of food and a proper home or family, the girls do what they can to feel happy but, from a reader’s point of view, as soon as Russel steps in the mood changes and dark cloud overshadow their happiness. Russel also adds that adult nature to the book with the addition of sex. I thought the sex scenes were told in such a fascinating way that I almost forgot the grim circumstances they were under. Inside Evie’s head her justification of why these things are happening is passed on to the reader and you really believe her reasons.
One major disappointment I did have was that I expected more of a climax towards the end of the book however, I can see how this would have been difficult when the story was told by Evie and she was not actually there for the crime.
I also wish that the characters of the other girls could have been explored a little more as I found them fascinating people.
I really enjoyed this book and it didn’t disappoint me. It made me think about my own life and particularly my own potential. Would I have followed the crowd just like Evie? Its scary to think that, although I would like to be certain I would stay away from people like Russel, I can’t be sure. You never know what you’re capable of and how other people can affect your morals.