Here’s another book where the cover drew me in, but this time around (unlike A Little Life), I actually liked the contents I found inside. After reading Cline’s short story “Northeast Regional” in the April 10th issue of the New Yorker, I figured I needed to read this novel, as she is apparently a writer on the rise.
Loosely based on the Manson murders, this book focuses on the untold story of a girl in the throes of adolescence, yearning for attention at whatever cost. Years later, as an adult still struggling to find her way, she reflects on her time spent at “the ranch,” surrounded by “the girls,” specifically one girl named Suzanne, whose love and favor she so desperately seeks. She had no idea of the violent horrors that would soon unfold, the acts of brutality these girls could possibly be capable of — or so she wishes to believe. She chooses to blame her blindness on girlish infatuation, being caught in the trap too many young girls find themselves in — wanting to be accepted by anyone who will give them something resembling love.
You won’t find action in The Girls, but rather reflection. Cline describes everything with sharp detail, going so quickly she doesn’t even use full sentences half the time, choosing to present each scene in a series of brief flashes associated with memory. Her insight on what it feels like to be a young, lonely girl is the most breathtaking, presenting the psychology of young, impressionable minds with both compassion and frustration.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I read it quickly, putting any other reading on hold, so I could commit myself to finishing it. If you’re so inclined (Emma Cline pun — I’ll see myself out, thanks) pick up this book and take a gander.
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