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.