Monday, 6 June 2016

Book Review: The Girls by Emma Cline

Read: June 4-6   Verdict:4 Stars
Published on: June 14th 2016

I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

It's the summer of 1969 and 14-year-old Evie Boyd is about to go through a troublesome transition from teenage child to young woman. Dreading the introduction of boarding school, bored with her best friend, Evie becomes enamoured with a group of young women who seem confident and carefree. Soon Evie is sucked into their world and falls under the control of an older man called Russell. Based on the Charles Manson/Manson Family murders, this is a story of growing up, exploring yourself and the dangers of seduction.

I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. I found young Evie's voice very easy to read and I read the story a lot quicker than I thought I would. I really got sucked into Evie's tales of The Ranch and how she she was looked after by Russell and Suzanne. The storytelling was so vivid and I really felt like i was there with Evie through everything.Evie was going through a transition - noticing the older boys around her, exploring her own body with both sexual acts and drug use and realising what it was like to be a girl in the world. 

"That was part of being a girl - you were resigned to whatever feedback you'd get. If you get mad, you were crazy, and if you didn't react, you were a bitch. The only thing you could was smile from the corner they'd backed you into. Implicate yourself in the joke even if the joke was always on you."

This novel is loosely based on the Manson Family murders, which I believe also happened in 1969 and about a commune or family that were all under the control of a man called Charles Manson. I found Russell in this to be very scary but at the same time I could see how he could gather young girls into his arms and brainwash them into staying and cherishing him. His character was very well-developed and even though he didn't actually appear in a lot of scenes himself, it still felt like he was there.

"They didn't have very far to fall - I knew just being a girl in the world handicapped your ability to believe yourself."

Evie's sexuality and her foray into her sexuality was interesting to follow. I would come to the conclusion that she was bisexual considering her feelings towards Pete but then the stronger ones with Suzanne. But she also did live with a man afterwards though at times, I felt a sexual chemistry between older Evie and Sasha. There is a lot of drug use and some graphic sex scenes in this so warning to anyone who doesn't like this kind of stuff. I thought it was written well though and was vivid without being too vulgar.

The only real problem I had with the book was older Evie's POV. I felt like it took away at times from the story. I would have preferred to stay in '69 rather than jump forward 20 years and see Evie look on at Julian and Sasha. I do feel like Cline was trying to show a parallel between Russell and his girls and the way Julian acted with Sasha - a casual control and an edge of cruelty. There wasn't a whole lot separating them yet Evie couldn't do anything to save Sasha, much like she couldn't do anything to save Suzanne from Russell's influence.