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review SPOILER ALERT! 2019-04-16 08:08
The Girls by Emma Cline
The Girls - Emma Cline

As a novel generally based on the Manson murders of 1969, at first I wasn't sure how gruesome or violent this was going to be. I found out later that it's less about gore and more about girlhood and coming of age, about being led astray by the wrong crowd. Fourteen-year-old Evie is mesmerized by an older teen, Suzanne, who draws her into what is clearly a cult led by a charismatic yet manipulative man. Evie is lonely and hungry for attention, and her inexperience as well as a lack of parental supervision lead to her getting more deeply involved in the group, bringing life-altering results.


It felt like I had to really focus when reading the book, probably because of the somewhat flowery language, so I went through this rather slowly. There were times when I just couldn't be bothered and picked up something lighter instead. It wasn't until I really sat down with the determination to finish that I got into the groove. The contrast between the bleak point of view of present-day Evie, forever changed by the experience, and the wide-eyed innocent girl she was back then provides a chilling sense of dread, amplified by a heavy dose of foreshadowing. I thought there would be a lot of violence, but there really isn't much especially since Evie wasn't present at the actual murders. That felt a bit anticlimactic for me, but I guess it made sense because otherwise she would've been investigated and could not have stayed anonymous. In my opinion the girls in the cult including Suzanne, for all her talk about gaining freedom by being part of it, are just as exploited as Evie is. With the help of drugs and calculated manipulation, their vulnerability are used to make them feel as if they have some agency when they are being controlled all along.


What struck me the most was how the author captures the most sexist and misogynistic side of the world and describes this in such a blatant way. It was like that for Evie as a teen in 1969 and still like that when she's middle-aged and sees herself in a young girl she meets. Girls who are vulnerable and hungry for attention and are supposed to be thankful to be objectified and taken advantage of by men. I realize not all guys are like that, and not all girls accept this kind of treatment, but this book highlights the worst part of the ingrained power imbalance between men and women, and it's so depressing.

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review 2017-09-20 00:00
The Girls: A Novel
The Girls: A Novel - Emma Cline There is no detail too sordid that this writer will not rhapsodize about it, which gives the overall effect of an ugly and repulsive world. I wouldn't have minded this too much if it wasn't ridiculously overwritten and many of the metaphors just didn't work. This book could really have used some restraint and a better editor. It's a shame because there are some very epiphanous observations that Ms. Cline makes about girlhood and the girl we carry into womanhood for the rest of our lives. The story is just a vehicle for these revelations. I haven't decided if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

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review 2017-08-07 00:00
The Girls
The Girls - Emma Cline I had wanted to read this for a while, and that may well be why I was left feeling somewhat disappointed by the read. I looked forward to the book ending on more than one occasion. I didn't enjoy the way the author had written the past vs. present parts, and they were not fluid for the reader at all.
As for this being 'loosely based on the Manson murders', I hated that part. I have been quite fascinated by that, as well as with the whole cult phenomenon in the late 60's, but this was so loosely fleshed out that it seemed disrespectful and almost lazy to take that story and use for this novel. I also didn't even feel like the relationship between the two girls was even fully explored enough to make that the centerpiece of this book. I enjoyed the backdrop of this book and all that, what with the time period, but having such high hopes for this book, I felt like so much more could have been done with it. Cline's writing can be so poetic, it seemed like a waste for a book that seemed to skim over such big topics.
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review 2017-05-10 04:16
The Girls - Emma Cline

Fourteen year old Evie has got a long summer ahead of her before she is shipped off to boarding school. She falls out with her best friend, her mum spends her time with her new boyfriend and her dad lives elsewhere with his new wife. Evie finds herself alone and desperate for attention. Then one day in a park, she notices a couple of strange girls and follows them to a dumpster where they collect dinner. She meets them again when her bike slips its chain and they offer her a lift to their ranch. There she finds the attention she has been craving. Everyone is chilled out and interested in her. And everyone is in awe of Russell. He is the manipulative head of the cult and he welcomes Evie with open arms. She spends the summer at the ranch, doing drugs and learning about sex, only returning home to keep up appearances (and steal money from her mum). But when Russell doesn't get the record deal he thinks he is due, things go very bad and Evie has a narrow escape.


This is not the kind of book I would normally read. It is a kind of coming of age story which is not my preferred genre. Evie is a lonely, bored and vulnerable teenage girl with low self-esteem, just crying out to be noticed - one of thousands in every generation. It is easy to see how some can be in thrall to sick men like Russell. Her gradual integration into the ranch community was chilling. I liked the end, proving that you can find friends and a sense of belonging in less dangerous surroundings.The writing was great, descriptive enough to let you see the details but it didn't get bogged down.


I loved this book. It is a must read for every parent with a teenage daughter. Or maybe not, I don't think I could have stomached it when my daughter was that age.



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text 2017-05-07 19:41
Reading progress update: I've read 254 out of 364 pages.
The Girls - Emma Cline

Much to my surprise, I am really enjoying this (if enjoying is the right word). It's kind of creepy and sad. Evie, a fourteen year old rich kid whose parents are divorced gets caught up in a commune. It is frightening because you can imagine how easily it can happen.

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