Book Review: The Girls by Emma Cline

Description (from goodreads)

the girlsNorthern 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 and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.


The Girls by Emma Cline was one of the most anticipated releases of this year. I had seen it around the blogosphere but I assumed that it would be months before I get to read it. However, I saw it on NetGalley and luckily, my request was approved.

The Girls by Emma Cline is hinged on the Charles Manson cult. The protagonist is Evie Bloyd who joins a cult led by a ‘charismatic’ leader, Russell. At that point, Evie is only 14 years old. She is young, lost and confused. She is our narrator in this book. There are two timelines that feature in the book. Evie narrates about her present day, years after leaving the cult. The second timeline is about the events that took place in 1969.

“All that time I had spent readying myself, the articles that taught me life was really just a waiting room until someone noticed you—the boys had spent that time becoming themselves. —”
Emma Cline, The Girls

This is a beautiful coming of age story. Emma Cline has a way with words. She portrayed the 60’s in such a way that made me wish that I had lived in that time period. It just seemed like an easier time, well apart from the cults. She also creates a sympathetic character in Evie. I could identify with Evie in a number of ways especially at that age. The author takes readers into the mind of the protagonist making it easy to connect with the 14 year old. She just wanted to belong which I guess most teens do. Her obsession with one of the cult members and the leader becomes apparent from the first moment when she joins the group and so do the reasons behind this attachment.

“That was part of being a girl–you were resigned to whatever feedback you’d get. If you got mad, you were crazy, and if you didn’t react, you were a bitch. The only thing you could do was smile from the corner they’d backed you into. Implicate yourself in the joke even if the joke was always on you.”
Emma Cline, The Girls

The Girls by Emma Cline is not one of those books that have a fast plot with so much happening at the same time. This plot was slower but it had a way of sucking me into the narrative. The narration is atmospheric in a way that got me lost in the 1960s. I could see and feel the things that Evie felt.

Emily Cline answered some of the questions that I have always had concerning cults and how people join them. In addition, I am familiar with the Manson’s case and have always wondered what drew such beautiful, young women to a man who I thought was just repulsive. What hold did he have on them to get them? This book helped me gain some insight into this.

the girlsThe Girls by Emma Cline gives hints of violent crimes. However, this book is not focused on the murders but the growth of the young woman. It’s a coming of age story as I mentioned before. In addition, the book focuses more on the relationships between the girls than on the cult leader .The chapters on 1969 depict adolescent struggles that most people will relate with. The book will make you question yourself and wonder how easy it is to get carried away and do things without really thinking about them. It is incredible to realize just how fast things can spiral out of control. I recommend this book to everyone because it is one of those books that you just have to read for yourself.

 Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and Emma Cline for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the book

  • Title: The Girls
  • Author: Emma Cline
  • Hardcover, 355 pages
  • Published June 14th 2016 by Random House