Book of the week: The Girls by Emma Cline
This book is already becoming a classic
Cliffsnotes: North California in the ’60s. 14-year old Evie Boyd is lonely, intelligent and thoughtful, waiting to be noticed. With her mother newly divorced and a swiftly dwindling friendship with her best mate, her summer seems largely disappointing – until she spies Suzanne, a stunningly reckless, raven-haired older girl at the park. Drawn by Suzanne’s charismatic pull, she finds herself in the fold of a cult hidden away at an eerie ranch. Helmed by a disenchanting but powerful musician, Russell Hadrick, the cult is knotted in delinquency, drug abuse and free love. The backdrop is modelled on the infamous Manson Family murders of the late 1960s. The core of the story, however is Evie and Suzanne’s bond and the internal economy of the cult. As she distances from her mother and spends more time at the ranch, Evie tends closer to unspeakable violence.
Get a taste: The novel’s storyline is gripping and its backdrop, haunting. Most of the critical praise the author has gained is for her grip over language and her acute understanding of humans and their unruly emotions.
So much of desire, at that age, was a willful act. Trying so hard to slur the rough, disappointing edges of boys into the shape of someone we could love. We spoke of our desperate need for them with rote and familiar words, like we were reading lines from a play. Later I would see this: how impersonal and grasping our love was, pinging around the universe, hoping for a host to give form to our wishes.
(The last time we felt this touched by an author’s mastery over the delicate, was while reading The Noise of Time
Author 101: Emma Cline is 27-year-old graduate of the Columbia MFA program, whose fiction has appeared in the Paris Review and Tin House. The Girls is her debut and has received widespread critical acclaim.
Fun Fact: Cline wrote this book at the tender age of 25, and at 27 has got herself a two million dollar three-book deal from Penguin.
Similar Reads: The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides, A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
The Girls (Penguin Random House) is out now.