The Girls: Book summary and reviews of The Girls by Emma Cline

The Girls

by Emma Cline

The Girls by Emma Cline X
The Girls by Emma Cline
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Book Summary

Girls - their vulnerability, strength, and passion to belong - are at the heart of this stunning first novel for readers of Jeffrey Eugenides' The Virgin Suicides and Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad.

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, and to that moment in a girl's life when everything can go horribly wrong.

Emma Cline's remarkable debut novel is gorgeously written and spellbinding, with razor-sharp precision and startling psychological insight. The Girls is a brilliant work of fiction - and an indelible portrait of girls, and of the women they become

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. 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." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. Although inspired by the infamous Charles Manson murders, Cline's impressive debut is more a harrowing coming-of-age exploration of how far a young girl will go (and how much she will give up of herself) in her desperate quest to belong. Beautifully written and unforgettable." - Library Journal

"Vivid and ambitious." - Kirkus

"The Girls is a brilliant and intensely consuming novel - imposing not just for a writer so young, but for any writer, any time." - Richard Ford

"Emma Cline's first novel positively hums with fresh, startling, luminous prose. The Girls announces the arrival of a thrilling new voice in American fiction." - Jennifer Egan

"I don't know which is more amazing, Emma Cline's understanding of human beings or her mastery of language." - Mark Haddon, New York Times bestselling author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

"Emma Cline has an unparalleled eye for the intricacies of girlhood, turning the stuff of myth into something altogether more intimate. She reminds us that behind so many of our culture's fables exists a girl: unseen, unheard, angry. This book will break your heart and blow your mind." - Lena Dunham

This information about The Girls shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Novelcommentaty

Understanding the misguided
Emma Cline's debut novel explores the coming of age of a 14 year old girl, growing up in the late 60's and being attracted to a Manson like commune. Cline shows the main character, Evie, as an adult but then flashes back to reflect on her infatuation with the girls that were a part of the leader's magnetism. In the opening pages, the young Evie sees a group of three girls in a park and is immediately fascinated by them. "the familiarity of the day was disturbed by the path the girls cut across the regular world. Sleek and thoughtless as sharks breaching the water." She is especially drawn to Suzanne, the prettiest one, "I couldn’t explain it to myself, the wrench I got from looking at her. She seemed as strange and raw as those flowers that bloom in lurid explosion once every five years, the gaudy, prickling tease that was almost the same thing as beauty."
Cline is not so much trying to fictionalize a Manson retelling, as she is trying to hone in on the factors of insecurity,and the dependence on male attention that opens the door to this kind of blind adoration.
The novel is very well written, equally depicting the California landscape of the late 60's , and the mindset of an impressionable young girl.
Pretty impressive for this 27 year old whose talent was recognized by the National Book Critics and Random House, where her advance was rumored to be $2 million.

BeckyH

Skip this one
What a sad and depressing book! Inspired by the girls who followed Charles Manson and committed vile crimes for him, this book follows a depressed and lonely girl as she falls under the spell of one of the followers of a cult leader in the 1960’s. Although some of the book is written from the perspective of an older Evie, most of it written as present day in the 60’s. Evie as a teen is depressed and depressing. Evie as a middle aged failure is even more depressing. Skip this one! Well written but who needs it.

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Author Information

Emma Cline

Emma Cline is from California. Her fiction has appeared in Tin House and The Paris Review, and she was the recipient of The Paris Review's Plimpton Prize for Fiction in 2014.

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