I’m not really sure where to start with this novel. I was so utterly blown away by it in the first few pages, and continually throughout, that I feel like anything I say will pale in comparison to Cline’s overwhelmingly beautiful way with words. However the world needs to know about the beauty of this book.
Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerising older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realise she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.
On the cover of The Girls Mark Haddon’s review states – “I don’t know which is more amazing, Emma Cline’s understanding of human beings or her mastery of language”. This completely sums up how I feel about this novel.
I was genuinely moved by The Girls. The ways in which Cline captures the fear of rejection and want of belonging in female adolescence will, I think, resonate with many women. The need to be noticed by boys older than you and to fit in with girls you think are better than you.
“All that time I had spent readying myself, the articles that taught me life was really just a waiting room until someone noticed you-the boys had spent that time becoming themselves”
This passage really struck a chord with me. As did many others, far too many to put down here. For me, this one sentence shows the raw truth of female adolescence in its purest form. I appreciate that it may be different now, guys are affected by the media just as much as women, but when I was younger girls were told by magazines and television how to look good, how to be noticed, how to make your crush fall for you, and what personality type you were after answering ten generic questions. Boys however, got to work out who they were for themselves, they became themselves. Girls became clones of fashion models in magazines who dictated what the latest fashion was that month.
The story itself was by no means a fast paced, edge of your seat thriller kind of story. It was creepy and sinister and throughout it I could sense the impending doom and just couldn’t shake the feeling that something bad was going to happen. Although just because it was not fast paced did not mean that I wasn’t hooked, I was.
The imagery in The Girls absolutely blew me away. The words that Cline uses, the way she places hard, and sometimes shocking, language gently in sophisticated sentences, has a certain mesmerising effect. Like you are only just learning what the words mean or you are reading a novel for the first time. The Girls compels you to read it, and it demands the attention that it wholeheartedly deserves of its readers. I couldn’t put this book down and I can’t wait to read it again.
It is truly one of the most wonderful books I have read, ever.