The Girls by Emma Cline: Book Review

The Girls

Obtained: Penguin Random House Canada
Pages: 368
Publish date: June 14, 2016
Rating: ★★★★

I was told that The Girls was comparative to The Virgin Suicides – a book that I admittedly haven’t read, but is on my shelf and I am very interested in, so that sparked my interest in Cline’s new novel. The summary of the plot was just so captivating that I knew I had to read this book.

The Girls is a reflective tale told in flashbacks by the protagonist, Evie, about her teenage summer in 1969 and how her infatuation with a girl named Suzanne got her tangled up in a hippie cult run by Russell – a man who all of the girls loved and whose life philosophies they worshipped. This group of young girls was all about sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll… and apparently some more violent actions that are hinted at throughout the novel as the reason why Suzanne ended up in prison and everything fell apart.

I knew I would love the story based on the summary, but I had no idea I would get so wrapped up in the book. It got to a point where I couldn’t put it down, and I needed to know what was going to happen. Even when Cline gives the reader large hints about what went down with this cult, to the point where by the end I knew what to expect, I still needed to see how it happened. And to me, that’s the mark of a good story – knowing how it will end but needing to know the how and why.

Cline’s characterization of Evie, Suzanne, Russell, and all of the supporting characters in this novel was so stunningly realistic, I felt as though I could imagine each of them as gorgeous, yet flawed individuals in my head. Which was made easier since each character actually had their own voice in the dialogue – a recent pet peeve of mine is when all of the characters sound the same, but Cline ensures that you can almost hear Evie’s mother scolding her in your ear.

The entire novel goes so psychologically in depth with each girl and how they grow up into the women they are, it’s hard not to get drawn into the romanticized version of Russell’s ranch.

Cline’s debut novel is really something incredible, and if you’re in a reading slump, or looking for something new to dig into, I really recommend you check this out.

The Girls is available online at Chapters Indigo, Book Depository, and Kobo.


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