The Girls by Emma Cline

the GirlsThe Girls is the story of Evie Boyd, told in two time periods: her as a teenager and her as a grown up looking back onto that summer in 1969 when she joined ‘the cult’. Evie Boyd was a 14 year old girl who grew up in a broken home. Her parents got divorced and she was living with her mother, however her mother’s attention has been divided as she starts dating again.

Evie is feeling lost, especially since she has fallen out with her best friend and happens to meet Suzanne quite by chance.  Suzanne is a few years older than her, but Evie is completely intrigued by her. The girl with the long black hair and carefree attitude and style of dress. She finds herself not being able to stop thinking about this girl, but then she runs into Suzanne again, who introduces her to her group of friends.

She finds that Suzanne’s friends are different, but despite the warning signs, Evie spends time with them, because she finally feels like she belongs somewhere. What she finds is that this group of friends is more of a cult than anything else.  The leader of the group, Russell has every girl in the ‘cult’ enthralled by him and soon that would be Evie as well.

Evie and Suzanne develops a friendship, unlike what she has with the other girls and at this point it would seem that Evie is becoming very emotionally dependent on Suzanne, while it seems that Suzanne is manipulating Evie. However, that could not be further from the truth, in my opinion. The reason for that is that while reading the book I could tell Suzanne had hesitations on having Evie join her group, but if you have not picked up on that in the beginning, you sure will at the end of the book when Suzanne makes a decision that changes Evie’s life:  Suzanne and the rest of the group committed a violent murder, in defense of Russell’s ego. Evie was never supposed to be involved in it and before she could implicate herself, Suzanne makes the decision to not have Evie be an accomplice to the crime, which Evie took as rejection.

Looking back on her past, Evie reflects on that summer and came to understand the depth of Suzanne’s friendship with her.  The Girls is no doubt well written and an engaging novel, but I did find it lacking. In my opinion as a reader, I think there was not enough emphasis on why this group of friends was called a ‘cult’. What were they really about and what was their purpose? To me, it was just a group of ‘friends’ with a leader who took advantage of young girls in need of love and belonging. How did he ‘make them’ do what they did? Why were they so enthralled by him?  More insight into the group and an extension of what happened to the perpetrators after the crime, would have easily made this book a 5 star for me.  It still is a good coming of age story that is worth a read, but pay no attention to the hype.

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  • This one is on my TBR and it sounds like a fantastic read! I like your take on Suzanne. She sounds like a complicated character.

    • Suzanne definitely is. I think there was a lot of things Suzanne tried to hide, like her compassion (towards Evie) and maybe her jealousy over Russell. She was a lot more than just a girl in a cult with a mean streak.

  • I’ve been seein this book everywhere over the last few months that I finally added it to my wishlist. The premise sounds interesting, too bad some of the big questions weren’t emphasised enough. By the way, I love this book cover more than the North American edition xD

    • I like this book cover too! I also liked the cover of The Miniaturist that we had more than the American one. I hope you will enjoy this one, Lianne.

  • Deb

    I heard great things about this book but stopped reading about halfway through. Something about the writing made it hard for me to get into it. I liked and sympathized with Evie but it felt like everything was over-described (too much telling rather than showing?). I wasn’t sure if it picked up later, but it sounds like maybe the characters were never developed as much as they could have been.

    • I’m sorry it was a DNF for you, Deb. For me, I definitely wanted to know what happened (the crime), but I think the emphasis was more on Evie’s journey and her looking back, then actually covering the crime everyone was reading towards.

  • Lisa Sheppard

    I definitely didn’t think this one was worth the hype or the money that was paid for it but mostly because all of that was just so over the top. I thought it was a well-written book, and, having been alive at the time of the Manson murders and having read about those, I felt I really could understand why this group of people followed Russell. Sometimes, it doesn’t take all that much to draw people in when they feel like they have so little else.

    • I’m not very familiar with the Manson murders. I’m sure that I would have probably loved it more if I could draw the parallels. I did enjoy this book, I just didn’t understand the hype. I expected so much more, but it’s still a good one!