Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Girls by Emma Cline

Northern California in the late 1960's.  It's summer and fourteen year old Evie Boyd is at loose ends.  Her parents have split up and she's had a fight with her best friend.  What will fill the endless days of summer?  Bored, she goes to a park one day and there she is.  Suzanne.  Older than Evie and a different kind of person than she has ever met.  Suzanne could care less what anyone thinks about her.  She looks a bit dirty, a bit dangerous.  Evie can't tear her eyes away.

Several days later, they meet again in a convenience store and start to talk.  Soon, Evie is totally enthralled with Suzanne and goes with home with her.  Home is the ranch where a group of other girls also live.  No one works, they just scam and scavenge for everything they eat.  They all circle around Russell, a mesmerizing figure who controls everything at the ranch while pretending to espouse love and freedom.

As the weeks go by, Evie finds it difficult to remain in society, wanting the ranch and what she finds there over everything else.  Even as the atmosphere turns darker and she is drawn into actions she never thought she'd perform, she can't break away.  She is glued to Suzanne as if their souls have been stitched together.  How will the summer end?

No one who was alive in the 60's will ever forget the Manson murders and the girls who surrounded him, willing to do anything he said, even steal and kill.  Even today the case is fascinating and every move of Manson and the girls, now grown old in jail, makes the news.  But the focus has always been on Manson.  In The Girls, Emma Cline focuses on the dynamic of the girls and what drew them from their homes and what kept them together even as everything fell apart.  Readers will be immersed in a culture that is foreign to them but Cline makes it believable and unforgettable.  This book is recommended for mystery and young adult readers.

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