The Girls

Emma Cline. Random House, $27 (368p) ISBN 978-0-8129-9860-3
A middle-aged woman looks back on her experience with a California cult reminiscent of the Manson Family in Cline’s provocative, wonderfully written debut. Fourteen years old in the summer of 1969, Evie Boyd enjoys financial privilege and few parental restrictions. Yet she’s painfully aware that she is fascinated by girls, awkward with boys, and overlooked by her divorced parents, who are preoccupied with their own relationships. When Evie meets “raunchy and careless” Suzanne Parker, she finds in the 19-year-old grifter an assurance she herself lacks. Suzanne lives at a derelict ranch with the followers of charismatic failed musician Russell Hadrick, who extols selflessness and sexual freedom. Soon, Evie—grateful for Russell’s attention, the sense of family the group offers, and Suzanne’s seductive presence—is swept into their chaotic existence. As the mood at the ranch turns dark, her choices become riskier. The novel’s title is apt: Cline is especially perceptive about the emulation and competition, the longing and loss, that connect her novel’s women and their difficult, sometimes destructive passages to adulthood. Its similarities to the Manson story and crimes notwithstanding, The Girls is less about one night of violence than about the harm we can do, to ourselves and others, in our hunger for belonging and acceptance. Agent: Bill Clegg, the Clegg Agency. (June)
Reviewed on: 02/15/2016
Release date: 06/14/2016
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-7352-0818-6
Compact Disc - 978-0-14-752399-0
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-84-339-7958-2
Paperback - 368 pages
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