Emma Cline’s The Girls has appeared on every list of can’t-miss books that I’ve seen so far this year. It finally came out, and I snagged a digital copy from the library. It was definitely good, even though not quite as good as I expected.
“Poor girls. The world fattens them on the promise of love. How badly they need it, and how little most of them will ever get.”
The Girls tells the story of Evie Boyd, now a driftless grown woman, who fell into a cult in the 1960s — a cult that eventually killed several people during a home invasion (sound familiar?). Her story is told in flashbacks, alternating with her current situation (housesitting for an old friend, whose drug-dealing son has decided to crash on the couch). Evie remembers how she got involved with the group, everything she experienced, and how she was kept from participating in the final event — something she suspected would occur but didn’t know details about until after the fact.
The writing is beautiful — Cline perfectly captures that awfulness of being a teenager, willing to do just about anything to be accepted by your peers. And the setting of the late 1960s works wonderfully. The farm that the cult lives at comes alive in all its creepy glory. Honestly, I found the plot only so-so (especially the present day stuff), but Cline more than makes up for it with her imagery and descriptions of that summer for Evie.