THE INSTANT BESTSELLER • An indelible portrait of girls, the women they become, and that moment in life when everything can go horribly wrong
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The Washington Post • NPR • The Guardian • Entertainment Weekly • San Francisco Chronicle • Financial Times • Esquire • Newsweek • Vogue • Glamour • People • The Huffington Post • Elle • Harper’s Bazaar • Time Out • BookPage • Publishers Weekly • Slate
Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence.
Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize • Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Award • Shortlisted for The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize • The New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice • Emma Cline—One of Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists
Praise for The Girls
“Spellbinding . . . a seductive and arresting coming-of-age story.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Extraordinary . . . Debut novels like this are rare, indeed.”—The Washington Post
“Hypnotic.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Gorgeous.”—Los Angeles Times
“Astonishing.”—The Boston Globe
“Superbly written.”—James Wood, The New Yorker
“Intensely consuming.”—Richard Ford
“A spectacular achievement.”—Lucy Atkins, The Times
“Compelling and startling.”—The Economist
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
This eerie, provocative trip down memory lane is an absolute stunner. Set in the summer of 1969, Emma Cline’s debut details the terrifying events that forever change protagonist Evie Boyd, a disaffected teenager drawn into a Manson Family–like cult. Cline beautifully captures the emotional turmoil of adolescence, creating a fully human, perfectly flawed protagonist with personality to spare. The young author (she was 25 when the novel was published) is a masterful and assured storyteller.
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.
Customer ReviewsSee All
“—but the familiarity of the Day was disturbed by the oath the girls cut across regular world. Sleek and thoughtless as sharks breaching the water”
This book is disturbing. Take a teenager in the 60s with all the “angst” and trauma from a contentious divorce; add angry and lonely parents, and the loose, angry, flowing morality of California in that decade. Evie Boyd is attracted to a group of women clustered around a charismatic leader and splits her summer between her mother’s home- and new partner and Russell’s “ranch”. Neither is the best place for her to be, but both effect her.
Told from older Evie’s point of view, Emma Cline pulls out all the stops:the good, the bad, the horror and the attraction of “different” that will inform the reader and pull them into a believable tale much as an observer to a train wreck. Triggers of sex and drugs. I simply could not stop reading this.
Ms. Cline freshens the concept of descriptive language, advances the technique of fashioning captivating narrative, and somehow depicts in accurate and nuanced detail the spirit and social physics of a time that only existed about twenty years before she was born. Regardless of her relative youth, this person is the fine, fine writer of a very absorbing book. Emma Cline. Next big thing? Maybe. New literary star? No doubt.
Finished it in one plane ride. Super quick read.