A coming of age story set within the backdrop of the 1960s with a Charles Manson-like cult leader and subsequent murders. That’s how The Girls by Emma Cline was sold, at least to me anyways, and it almost delivered. Almost.
Drawn to the book because I am a big true crime enthusiast and a sucker for a story with a female lead, I thought it would be interested to read the story of a young girl (Evie, aged 14) who, in only a few months, becomes entangled with the charismatic Russell, and obsessed with the wild Suzanne, climaxing to a moment of violence that alters history.
The book, written from the perspective of older Evie, explored her thoughts and feelings from 1969 and her fears of the present. Emma Cline wrote in beautiful prose about being a girl who is on the cusp of womanhood. Evie is lonely and confused, waiting for someone like Suzanne to come into her life and create purpose and excitement. While Evie and Suzanne were decently interesting, some of the other characters fell a little flat. There for the purpose of plot and not really for their own merit. The rest of the time I spent reading I was waiting for the moment to come when the unspeakable violence happens and I would be left with my mouth hanging open….but it never really came.
I don’t want to spoil the story fully, but Evie left me wanting more. More development, more excitement, more of a character that I could appreciate- which I know is very selfish. I believe we were left with something a little more “real” to the situation than what I wanted from the end, but i’m still left a little disappointed.
I was captivated and enthralled, wanting to find out how this girl joins a soon-to-be infamous cult…but left feeling the story and characters could have been more.
All in all, I’d suggest this book for others to read giving it a 3 star rating. If you’ve read this book, I’d be interested to see what you thought about Evie and her time on the ranch.