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Book Review: 'The Girls' is Haunting

It is appropriate that the cover of The Girls by Emma Cline pays homage to the psychedelic band gig posters prominent in San Francisco during the late sixties; the book takes place in 1969 in Northern California, characters drop out, and visionaries distort reality. While Cline drew her inspiration from the effect of despicable charm a man like Charles Manson has on young vulnerable girls, her novel is a more universal story about young girls everywhere. 

I was spellbound by this debut novel from the opening paragraph. Lonely and adrift, 14-year-old Evie is on a downward spiral as she willingly follows cult member and exotic Suzanne into the volatile and scary commune/cult in a dirty pocket of land in Marin County in 1969. Teetering between security and the need for unconditional love, her safety and future hinge on chance and snap decisions. Cline’s intoxicating narrative transports us to the dangerous, all-knowing, yet confused mind of a teenage girl. We feel Evie’s desperation to belong even as we want to save her from the sinister forces at play.

Toward the end of the book Evie wisely observes of the Girls:  “We had been with the men..but they would never know the parts of ourselves that we hid from them..or even know there was something more they should be looking for”

Mothers, make sure your daughters are safe before picking up this harrowing story of a girl whose fate is in the hands of dangerous people who may miraculously also be her savior. Beautifully rendered, this haunting tale of the lives of the girls is one you don’t want to miss.