Evie Boyd is a bored, restless fourteen year old during the summer of 1969. She is on the "outs" with her only friend, Connie, when she first sees the group of girls in the park. She is intrigued by their sisterhood and one girl in particular has Evie completely entranced. It takes a few more chance encounters throughout their Northern California community before a busted bike chain allows Evie to officially meet Suzanne and the rest of the girls. The offer to give her a ride in their big converted school bus and Evie finds herself joining them at the "ranch" where she meets the leader of their unique family, Russell. The Ranch is so different from anything Evie has ever known that she finds herself slipping easily into the commune life. Her mother is destracted with trying to find her next ex-husband that she doesn't realize that young Evie has taken up with a dangerous man and his cult followers. As the summer heats up, Evie falls deeper under their spell of both Russell and the enigmatic Suzanne. Will Evie be able to escape the clutches of the cult before it is too late?
The Girls has been getting a lot of media buzz as a "must read" book of the summer, and with very good reason. With her extreme innocence Evie Boyd is a bit of an enigmatic to Suzanne and the girls. As Evie is captivated by their free living lifestyle, they are captivated by her doe-eyed curiosity and innocent adoration. It is easy to understand how and why Evie got caught up in the events at The Ranch. Her parents were newly divorced, her mother was distracted and her father was pretty much gone. Her best friend just ditched her and Evie was heading off to boarding school in the fall. Evie Boyd was essentially a lost girl. Now, The Girls is told from Evie's viewpoint as she reflects back on that summer. Many, many years have passed, so you know that she survived the gruesome, violent "event", but you don't find out what that brutal event actually is until nearly the end of the book. All of the information released by the publisher compares Russell to Charles Manson, so you kind of know what could be coming, but you have no idea to what degree. The story of The Girls is pretty enthralling, but Emma Cline made such astute observations in her descriptions that you think to yourself, yes THAT. Here are a few things that caught my attention and made me think "wow":
That was part of being a girl - you were resigned to whatever feedback you'd get.
The world fattens them on the promise of love. How badly they need it, and how little most oft hem will ever get.
I knew just being a girl in the world handicapped your ability to believe yourself.
Bottom line - The Girls is an explosive story that will draw you in the way Evie was drawn to Russell and his girls. You won't be able to put it down, that I can promise.