The Girls by Emma Cline

The Girls
Being a girl is a tricky business, being a teenage girl even more so.

If you got mad, you were crazy, and if you didn’t react, you were a bitch. The only thing you could do was smile from the corner they’d backed you into. Implicate yourself in the joke even if the joke was always on you.

Emma Cline’s The Girls captures this so perfectly, so absolutely, that’s it’s a wonderful reading experience. Set against the backdrop of Northern California during the volatile 1960s, the novel depicts the life of Evie Boyd. She’s a typical, if lonely, teenager who, in her desperation to fit in, attaches herself to a soon to be infamous cult. She blossoms under their attention and affection (as twisted as it might be), but things are far more sinister than they appear.

The language and imagery of this novel are brilliantly evocative – everything seems tangible – and my review will never do it justice. Instead, I’ll leave you with one of my favorites passages, which is apt even now:

The didn’t have very far to fall – I knew just being a girl in the world handicapped your ability to believe in yourself. Feelings seemed completely unreliable, like faulty gibberish scraped from a Ouija board. M childhood visits to the family doctor were stressful events for that reason. He’d ask me gentle questions: How was I feeling? How would I describe the pain? Was it more sharp or more spread out? I’d just look at him in desperation. I needed to be told. To take a test, be put through a machine that could comb my insides with radiated precision and tell me what the truth was.

Bottom line: Just read it.

*A copy of this novel was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

10 thoughts on “The Girls by Emma Cline

  1. I’m half an hour off finishing this book and have loved it – she has captured the teenage voice exceptionally well. Oddly (or actually, maybe not), I’ve highlighted the same quotes as you have included in your review.


  2. There is so much to love in this book. Any parent of a teenage girl should read this as insight into what their daughter is feeling. So funny I’m in my 30s now, and when I read this it’s like I was a teen just yesterday… many of these feelings are still pretty raw when I’m reminded of that time. Tricky tricky business, as you said.


  3. Oh, that last passage. Sometimes I *still* feel that way, and I think living with a persistent anxiety disorder has something to do with it.

    I have this ARC at home and just keep finding more reasons to bump it to the top of my reading list.


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