The Girls is the debut novel by Emma Cline, and it is a convincing and well-built one. The story is about Evie Boyd, a girl in the summer of 1969 in California.
The novel is set in two different epochs: everything begins with an adult Evie remembering the summer when she met Suzanne and Russell’s group.
Evie is a young adult suffering the great drama of adolescence: she does not feel herself belonging to any group, she has a single friend, Connie, and she would like to be noticed; her parent’s divorce and her mother’s focus on new lovers – and a new-age life – enhance Evie’s feeling of being alone.
One day Evie meets Suzanne, a girl with a magnetic charm, a girl Evie thinks belong to a superior order, a group she does not belong to. However this time Evie is noticed, and Suzanne introduces her to the ranch life, a community leaded by Russell, preacher of a new social order and wannabe musician.
Evie is attracted by this new way of living, and she feels she belongs to the group, something never happened in her life. The novel is divided in three parts, and at every beginning we face the adult Evie, now tormented and scarred by her memories of the past: the evidence of the criminal acts of Russell’s community, Suzanne involvement and the idea Evie herself – if she had been present – coud have been convinced in acting during the murders are heavy weights to live with.
The plot takes form from the events related to the Manson’s family, that took place in the same times and places, but the focus of the novel is not the group madness, but the feeling to belong to a community or not. The title summarize Evie’s vision, both young and adult: the girls are beings that stand out from the background, and Evie, never fully integrated in any group, looks at them from afar and longs to be with them.
Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.
* The Girls by Emma Cline ★★★★☆½
*I read this book in english