The Girls: A Novel by Emma ClineThe Girls: A Novel by Emma Cline

The Girls: A Novel

byEmma Cline

Paperback | May 9, 2017

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THE INSTANT BESTSELLER • An indelible portrait of girls, the women they become, and that moment in life when everything can go horribly wrong

The Washington Post • NPR • The Guardian • Entertainment Weekly • San Francisco Chronicle • Financial Times • Esquire • Newsweek • Vogue • Glamour • People • The Huffington Post • Elle • Harper’s Bazaar • Time Out • BookPage • Publishers Weekly • Slate

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 mesmerizing 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 realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence.

Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize • Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Award • Shortlisted for The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize • The New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice • Emma Cline—One of Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists

Praise for The Girls

“Spellbinding . . . a seductive and arresting coming-of-age story.”The New York Times Book Review

“Extraordinary . . . Debut novels like this are rare, indeed.”The Washington Post

“Hypnotic.”—The Wall Street Journal

“Gorgeous.”—Los Angeles Times

“Savage.”—The Guardian

“Astonishing.”—The Boston Globe

“Superbly written.”—James Wood, The New Yorker

“Intensely consuming.”—Richard Ford

“A spectacular achievement.”—Lucy Atkins, The Times

“Thrilling.”—Jennifer Egan

“Compelling and startling.”—The Economist
Emma Cline was the winner of The Paris Review’s Plimpton Prize in 2014. She is from California.
Title:The Girls: A NovelFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:368 pages, 7.98 × 5.17 × 0.74 inShipping dimensions:7.98 × 5.17 × 0.74 inPublished:May 9, 2017Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0812988027

ISBN - 13:9780812988024


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read! I loved this book! The protagonist's dark spiral into life in a cult was well written and made it clear how people can find themselves in such communities. Lovers of classic serial killers will also find this story eerily similar to the Manson Family murders.
Date published: 2019-05-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from it was ok I didnt love it, didnt hate it. it wasnt really what i was expecting and it took me a very long time to get through it.
Date published: 2018-08-17
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Don't understand all the great reviews I wanted to rage quit this book about a quarter of the way in, I just did not like the writing and the story didn't keep me engaged. I kept at it as I had read so many great reviews but I regret spending so much time trying to get through it.
Date published: 2018-07-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Pretty good This novel really captures how boredom and dread can fill the lives of suburban teenagers, and how that longing for adventure and escape can leave one vulnerable. Beautifully written on a sentence-by-sentence basis, but ending feels a bit abrupt.
Date published: 2018-06-06
Rated 1 out of 5 by from bof I was expecting so much more from this book i was so disappointed by that book it took every thing for me to finish it
Date published: 2018-05-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My all-time favourite book It takes a lot for me to really become obsessed with a book, but this one sucked me in and I loved everything about it. I love the setting and the fact it was written from the main character's perspective. I recommend this to everyone.
Date published: 2018-05-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Captivating I loved how this book really focused on the experiences of women and didn't glamourize the horrible male as the centre of the story.
Date published: 2018-03-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent novel Very interesting plot and well written on the subject matter. I felt like I was truly there living the experiences. Must say though, the plot was predictable (as the author likely knew it would be)- the novel is loosely based off of the Manson family. My favourite read of the summer (and I read a lot of books)!
Date published: 2018-02-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This will be a movie Was way too into this book, made me want to join a cult. ha! Can't wait for a movie adaptation
Date published: 2018-02-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not what I expected but still good! I am glad I took this out from the library rather than purchased. An amazing debut, her writing is very fluid and effortless. The story was not what I expected and seemed somewhat devoid of emotion, but perhaps that is what she was trying to convey.
Date published: 2018-01-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent This writer really captures what it's like to be a girl - in between everything
Date published: 2018-01-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good read This was an easy read, fiction loosely based on facts that parallel the Manson family cult/murders, which is something I am extremely interested in. I did enjoy the book, it was easy to really get into the book, I had it finished in just a few days, but it seemed that there was a lot of build up to only have the character mildly involved with the actual events that inspired this book.
Date published: 2018-01-23
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Annoyed. All I did while reading this book was wait. Wait for the story to start, wait for the plot to reach its potential, wait for something to catch me off guard. To be honest, I'm very confused by its entirety. It feels like the cult topic was exploited to hype the book but it ended up leaving a sour taste in my mouth when the author did not deliver. It's okay at best. Mediocre is more like it. I've rarely read a book that said so much without actually reaching a point. I have so many questions. For example, why was did book written in the first place? What's the purpose of telling a story with such an empty and pointless plot? If you're considering reading this book, I'd recommend looking at some articles on Charles Manson instead. It'll be less frustrating and free of teenage angst.
Date published: 2017-12-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Creepy Really descriptive language and interesting metaphors, a wild concept and violent youth
Date published: 2017-10-31
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Overhyped and underwhelming If you're looking for a book based (even loosely) on a cult....look somewhere else. If you're looking for a book about an awkward, unlikeable teenager who almost does something interesting...this is for you.
Date published: 2017-10-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from loved it I could not put this book down. The author literally made me feel like I was in this novel while reading it. Her writing technique is amazing! Very amazing approach on the Manson murders.
Date published: 2017-09-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from such a good book I finished this book in a day! Couldn't put it down. A very good author and story. If you are familiar with the Manson Murders, this book is based on the same story line.
Date published: 2017-09-27
Rated 2 out of 5 by from An interesting story told from the most uninteresting perspective The main crux of the story is peripheral to the plot in this story. The cult and girls in the cult are the most interesting part and yet the story takes the perspective of an outsider that has a mild connection to the cult itself. Because of that, it was thoroughly boring.
Date published: 2017-09-21
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Wanted it to end... I can't ever recall a time that I wanted to finish a book so badly, yet could barely get through it. It was a real struggle. This book got so hyped up but to be honest it was mediocre at best. I would not recommend it.
Date published: 2017-08-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Had good and bad moments As my name states. I love non-fiction. I love true crime and i'm weirdly obsessed with the Manson story. All of the bigger reviews made it seem like this was a fictional story based on the events in the cult. I honestly expected more from this book, as I went into it with a particular vision in mind. It is very LOOSELY based on those events, so if you're going into it with the same mindset that I did, you won't be happy. However; the way this story was written was very well done and I did finish the book and enjoyed it. I just had to quickly take my preconceived vision away in order to enjoy it. I didn't like the way it ended either, it was very abrupt and didn't seem to tie up any loose ends.
Date published: 2017-07-24
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Mediocre at best I heard such great things about this book. Unfortunately, it felt like I was reading teen fiction. I would have stopped reading after the 1st chapter if I hadn't spent so much money purchasing it.
Date published: 2017-07-24
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Don't waste your time Honestly I expected so much more from this book. I know the author was given special access and permission to write this book (maybe even a grant but don't quote me) It was not focused on Charles Manson at all! Doesn't even mention it's about his cult just talk faquely about a man that runs a cult. Just about two fictional girls who become obsessed with each other. You're basically left to put the story together yourself. The end was very anti climatic. If youre looking for a book about the Charles Manson cult this is not the book for you. More or less beats around the bush of what happened
Date published: 2017-07-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Intriguing My only complaint is that I wish there was more about the downfall of the cult. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-06-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic! This book is impossible to put down. I flew through it because I was so enthralled with the plot.
Date published: 2017-06-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Recommend I had not read any reviews prior and was pleasantly surprised at the writing. I did have a hard time Believing the girl was 14, my sheltered upbringing view.
Date published: 2017-06-18
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Slow and lacking I really didn't like this book. I hated the style of writing and I found the story to be rushed and disappointing.
Date published: 2017-06-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Would recommend So good, I was hooked the second I started reading it! Really captures those feelings of adolescent female insecurity and the desire to be loved (romantically and platonically).
Date published: 2017-06-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from good book! interesting story line presented!!
Date published: 2017-05-31
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good, but lacking. I purchased this book because the cover looked cool and the reviews sounded great. It was an easy read, but a bit predictable. It felt like it touched on some great issues, but failed to see them through.
Date published: 2017-05-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Captivating I really really enjoyed reading this book. It was an easy read, but held my attention the whole time. It was definitely an interesting look into the world of cult life. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-05-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Quick read - loved it! Loved this book - interesting take on the Manson murders/cult life. great for true crime fans!!
Date published: 2017-05-26
Rated 2 out of 5 by from I Expected More I was so excited to read this thinking it would be a great Charles Manson-esque story. Unfortunately, what I received was disappointing, dry, dull, and slow. I would not recommend this book.
Date published: 2017-05-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from not what i hoped for As much as it does go along the stories it is based of this book is very drawn out and dry.
Date published: 2017-05-24
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Slow and Boring Just as my review Title suggests slow and boring.
Date published: 2017-05-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from all right found it slight and shallow.
Date published: 2017-05-10
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Fell Short Overall the book was boring. It attempted to hit some great themes but it fell short more often than not.
Date published: 2017-03-22

Read from the Book

Adapted from THE GIRLS by Emma Cline, available everywhere June 14th, 2016. I looked up because of the laughter, and kept looking because of the girls.   I noticed their hair first, long and uncombed. Then their jewelry catching the sun. The three of them were far enough away that I saw only the periphery of their features, but it didn’t matter—I knew they were different from everyone else in the park. Families milling in a vague line, waiting for sausages and burgers from the open grill. Women in checked blouses scooting into their boyfriends’ sides, kids tossing eucalyptus buttons at the feral-looking chickens that overran the strip. These long-haired girls seemed to glide above all that was happening around them, tragic and separate. Like royalty in exile.   I studied the girls with a shameless, blatant gape: it didn’t seem possible that they might look over and notice me. My hamburger was forgotten in my lap, the breeze blowing in minnow stink from the river. It was an age when I’d immediately scan and rank other girls, keeping up a constant tally of how I fell short, and I saw right away that the black-haired one was the prettiest. I had expected this, even before I’d been able to make out their faces. There was a suggestion of otherworldliness hovering around her, a dirty smock dress barely covering her ass. She was flanked by a skinny redhead and an older girl, dressed with the same shabby afterthought. As if dredged from a lake. All their cheap rings like a second set of knuckles. They were messing with an uneasy threshold, prettiness and ugliness at the same time, and a ripple of awareness followed them through the park. Mothers glancing around for their children, moved by some feeling they couldn’t name. Women reaching for their boyfriends’ hands. The sun spiked through the trees, like always—the drowsy willows, the hot wind gusting over the picnic blankets—but the familiarity of the day was disturbed by the path the girls cut across the regular world. Sleek and thoughtless as sharks breaching the water.   1   It was the end of the sixties, or the summer before the end, and that’s what it seemed like, an endless, formless summer. The Haight populated with white-garbed Process members handing out their oat-colored pamphlets, the jasmine along the roads that year blooming particularly heady and full. Everyone was healthy, tan, and heavy with decoration, and if you weren’t, that was a thing, too—you could be some moon creature, chiffon over the lamp shades, on a kitchari cleanse that stained all your dishes with turmeric.   But that was all happening somewhere else, not in Petaluma with its low-hipped ranch houses, the covered wagon perpetually parked in front of the Hi-Ho Restaurant. The sun-scorched crosswalks. I was fourteen but looked much younger. People liked to say this to me. Connie swore I could pass for sixteen, but we told each other a lot of lies. We’d been friends all through junior high, Connie waiting for me outside classrooms as patient as a cow, all our energy subsumed into the theatrics of friendship. She was plump but didn’t dress like it, in cropped cotton shirts with Mexican embroidery, too-tight skirts that left an angry rim on her upper thighs. I’d always liked her in a way I never had to think about, like the fact of my own hands.   Come September, I’d be sent off to the same boarding school my mother had gone to. They’d built a well-tended campus around an old convent in Monterey, the lawns smooth and sloped. Shreds of fog in the mornings, brief hits of the nearness of salt water. It was an all-girls school, and I’d have to wear a uniform—low-heeled shoes and no makeup, middy blouses threaded with navy ties. It was a holding place, really, enclosed by a stone wall and populated with bland, moon-faced daughters. Camp Fire Girls and Future Teachers shipped off to learn 160 words a minute, shorthand. To make dreamy, overheated promises to be one another’s bridesmaids at Royal Hawaiian weddings.   My impending departure forced a newly critical distance on my friendship with Connie. I’d started to notice certain things, almost against my will. How Connie said, “The best way to get over someone is to get under someone else,” as if we were shopgirls in London instead of inexperienced adolescents in the farm belt of Sonoma County. We licked batteries to feel a metallic jolt on the tongue, rumored to be one-eighteenth of an orgasm. It pained me to imagine how our twosome appeared to others, marked as the kind of girls who belonged to each other. Those sexless fixtures of high schools.   Every day after school, we’d click seamlessly into the familiar track of the afternoons. Waste the hours at some industrious task: following Vidal Sassoon’s suggestions for raw egg smoothies to strengthen hair or picking at blackheads with the tip of a sterilized sewing needle. The constant project of our girl selves seeming to require odd and precise attentions.   As an adult, I wonder at the pure volume of time I wasted. The feast and famine we were taught to expect from the world, the countdowns in magazines that urged us to prepare thirty days in advance for the first day of school.   Day 28: Apply a face mask of avocado and honey.   Day 14: Test your makeup look in different lights (natural, office, dusk).   Back then, I was so attuned to attention. I dressed to provoke love, tugging my neckline lower, settling a wistful stare on my face whenever I went out in public that implied many deep and promising thoughts, should anyone happen to glance over. As a child, I had once been part of a charity dog show and paraded around a pretty collie on a leash, a silk bandanna around its neck. How thrilled I’d been at the sanctioned performance: the way I went up to strangers and let them admire the dog, my smile as indulgent and constant as a salesgirl’s, and how vacant I’d felt when it was over, when no one needed to look at me anymore.   I waited to be told what was good about me. I wondered later if this was why there were so many more women than men at the ranch. 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.   Adapted from THE GIRLS by Emma Cline. Copyright © 2016 by Emma Cline. Reprinted by arrangement with Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

Editorial Reviews

“Spellbinding . . . A seductive and arresting coming-of-age story hinged on Charles Manson, told in sentences at times so finely wrought they could almost be worn as jewelry . . . [Emma] Cline gorgeously maps the topography of one loneliness-ravaged adolescent heart. She gives us the fictional truth of a girl chasing danger beyond her comprehension, in a Summer of Longing and Loss.”—The New York Times Book Review “[The Girls reimagines] the American novel . . . Like Mary Gaitskill’s Veronica or Lorrie Moore’s Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?, The Girls captures a defining friendship in its full humanity with a touch of rock-memoir, tell-it-like-it-really-was attitude.”—Vogue “Debut novels like this are rare, indeed. . . . The most remarkable quality of this novel is Cline’s ability to articulate the anxieties of adolescence in language that’s gorgeously poetic without mangling the authenticity of a teenager’s consciousness. The adult’s melancholy reflection and the girl’s swelling impetuousness are flawlessly braided together. . . . For a story that traffics in the lurid notoriety of the Manson murders, The Girls is an extraordinary act of restraint. With the maturity of a writer twice her age, Cline has written a wise novel that’s never showy: a quiet, seething confession of yearning and terror.”—The Washington Post “Outstanding . . . Cline’s novel is an astonishing work of imagination—remarkably atmospheric, preternaturally intelligent, and brutally feminist. . . . Cline painstakingly destroys the separation between art and faithful representation to create something new, wonderful, and disorienting.”—The Boston Globe “Finely intelligent, often superbly written, with flashingly brilliant sentences, . . . Cline’s first novel, The Girls, is a song of innocence and experience. . . . In another way, though, Cline’s novel is itself a complicated mixture of freshness and worldly sophistication. . . . At her frequent best, Cline sees the world exactly and generously. On every other page, it seems, there is something remarkable—an immaculate phrase, a boldly modifying adverb, a metaphor or simile that makes a sudden, electric connection between its poles. . . . Much of this has to do with Cline’s ability to look again, like a painter, and see (or sense) things better than most of us do.”—The New Yorker “Breathtaking . . . So accomplished that it’s hard to believe it’s a debut. Cline’s powerful characters linger long after the final page.”—Entertainment Weekly (Summer Must List) “A mesmerizing and sympathetic portrait of teen girls.”—People (Summer’s Best Books) “The Girls isn’t a Wikipedia novel, it’s not one of those historical novels that congratulates the present on its improvements over the past, and it doesn’t impose today’s ideas on the old days. As the smartphone-era frame around Evie’s story implies, Cline is interested in the Manson chapter for the way it amplifies the novel’s traditional concerns. Pastoral, marriage plot, crime story—the novel of the cult has it all.”—New York Magazine