The 1960s in California would have been a rather interesting time and place to live. The depiction of the cult lifestyle in Emma Cline’s The Girls demonstrates that for all the wonder outwardly displayed, there could be some evil lurking beneath the surface.
Introspective Evie Boyd is 14 and rebellious against her more proper upbringing, thanks to the Hollywood stardom of her grandmother, and her dysfunctional parents. Aside from the typical teenage rebellion of drinking and smoking, Evie gets caught up in the freedom and communal lifestyle she sees in a group of girls at the park, but the girl who catches her attention the most is Suzanne. Drawn into the way that Suzanne carries herself, Evie also gets drawn into the charisma of the group’s leader, Russell. As the girls do whatever they can to please Russell and help him with his music career, there comes a darker, more violent path that may tempt Evie to do unspeakable things.
The story was entertaining and the writing was very descriptive, and overall quite good. The way the narrative is structured with the present and the past works, but there are interjections in the past narrative that seem to be coming from the present, which is jarring, doesn’t seem to add much to the narrative’s trajectory, and pulls me out of the story’s flow. While the writing was good, the book seems like it still needs some developmental editing to make it a stronger, more cohesive narrative more worthy of all the hype it’s received.
Overall, I’d give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars.