Book Review: The Girls by Emma Cline

The GirlsThe Girls by Emma Cline
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Girls tells the story of Evie, fourteen-year-old in the summer before boarding school and her slow and lingering fascination with a group of girls and their mysterious leader in the hazy sixties/seventies.
I’ve never read a book like this before, where I could be completely immersed as the character talked about something as mundane as bread. It’s beautifully written, perfectly encapsulating that weirdly intense time when you’re fourteen and every movement feels like it’s the first one to exist (albeit I won’t argue with those that don’t like this prose style as there is a lot to even the smallest moments)
Loosely based around the Manson family and the Sharon Tate murder of 1969, there’s a foreboding sense of inevitability as Evie is drawn further into the farm, introduced to Mitch and reflects back on what happened as an older woman. Here the Charles character ‘Russell’ feels merely incidental to Evie’s time just as sex and drugs are written as background noise to Evie’s love of Suzanne.
Suzane starts off as a symbol of Evie’s freedom and slowly develops into a strange self-destructive (almost) relationship another tragedy of that horrible moment of being a teenager when you don’t know if it’s love or if it’s idolization.
More than anything it’s the story of a girl’s spectatorship to a horrific tragedy, a coming of age novel at the death of the hippie movement.

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