Set in the late 1960s in Northern California, it is the start of the summer for Evie before she will start at a new boarding school. Lonely and stuck in the suburbs, Evie becomes enchanted by a group of girls, carelessly dressed and surrounded in an aura of danger and freedom. Evie befriends one of them, Suzanne, and becomes part of their cult run by a charismatic older man. As she becomes engrossed more and more into their cult, Evie does not realise that she is being pulled closer and closer to the danger and violence that awaits them.
I wanted to read this after becoming compelled by the cover last summer and hearing some great reviews. The background behind The Girls sparks from an interesting place, partly based on the Charles Manson murders that killed five people at the house of film director, Roman Polanski.
It reminded me a lot of Girls On Fire by Robin Wasserman – taking bored, young suburban girls into these real life adult situations, testing their friendships and to some extent, their naivety. I enjoyed Girls on Fire somewhat, and would definitely recommend The Girls if you’re a fan of this one and the other intense, young friendship stories that seem to be littering bookshops currently.
I did really enjoy The Girls and definitely enjoyed more than Girls On Fire. The language is probably the element of this book which sticks out in my mind the most. Looking at some reviews, others found Cline’s poetic language a bit too distracting from the plot and its characters. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how much the language tied into the story as well as Evie’s narration in a way that really brought the whole novel together. I’m personally not always a fan of this kind of storytelling, however, in The Girls it really worked to tie it all together.
The book’s structure flicks between the present and past as there is this undeniable sense of unnerving inevitability becoming more and more intense as the novel progresses towards the final act. It is this that I think kept me engrossed in the narrative as well as Evie’s own narration, telling the story of a girl caught in the middle of adolescence and womanhood – a feeling I definitely can relate to.
I really enjoyed this book and I would highly recommend. It is definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year – perhaps not the most original premise with the whole hoards of books, TV shows and films that seem to be bringing the horrible Manson murders to light again. Nonetheless, it is done with maturity and becomes a story much bigger than just the murders. If you’re looking for that last summer read before autumn well and truly comes, I would definitely recommend this one.
I give it 5 out of 5