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

The Girls: A Novel

byEmma Cline

Hardcover | June 14, 2016

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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

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
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

“Emma Cline has an unparalleled eye for the intricacies of girlhood, turning the stuff of myth into something altogether more intimate.”—Lena Dunham

“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

“Elegant and nostalgic.”—Julie Beck, The Atlantic

“Masterful . . . In the cult dynamic, Cline has seen something universal—emotions, appetites, and regular human needs warped way out of proportion—and in her novel she’s converted a quintessentially ’60s story into something timeless.”—Christian Lorentzen, New York
Emma Cline was the winner of The Paris Review’s Plimpton Prize in 2014. She is from California.
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Title:The Girls: A NovelFormat:HardcoverDimensions:368 pages, 8.5 × 5.8 × 1 inPublished:June 14, 2016Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:081299860X

ISBN - 13:9780812998603

Reviews

Rated 2 out of 5 by from Book was meh, but... #plumreview I didn't really understand why this author insisted doing a retelling of Charles Mansons cult. Really what was the point of that?
Date published: 2017-09-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fantastic Coming of Age Story What a fantastic coming of age story in an era I was born after but have always been fascinated with. Great read.
Date published: 2017-08-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Just alright Not my favourite book, but a good summer read
Date published: 2017-07-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from The Girls by Emma Cline This book took real events, changed the characters names, and did nothing creative outside of that. It was fine, I guess. It's not worth whatever advance she got from Random House, and it's not worth the attention it's getting. It's not written very well, often comes across as too pretentious and trying too hard to be awesome, and ultimately forgettable.
Date published: 2017-05-06
Rated 2 out of 5 by from meh This book had a lot of hype around it so I was very excited to read it. I found it hard to get into. It's very descriptive which meant that it took a looong time to actually get into the story part where things begin happening. Wasn't my cup of tea.
Date published: 2017-04-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Okay read This book was neither great nor terrible; middle of the road for me. It reminded me a lot of The Manson Family, which has already been covered.
Date published: 2017-04-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not worth the hype Set in 1969, Evie is fourteen and struggling to find her place. She isn't happy with her family or friendships, and one day she stumbles upon this fascinating and mysterious group of girls. Evie is welcomed into this community of people who appear to be all about free love, music and peace but is quickly introduced to their enigmatic leader whose charismatic personality and dark intentions makes for a deadly combination. The book is told both in present day with Evie's current life, as well as being set back in the late 60's and everything that transpired in this commune. I didn't personally enjoy this timeline choice, but it was definitely very interesting to see what Evie's future held after joining and discovering the truth about this community. I think there will be a ton of buzz about this novel this year; it is too interesting a story to be overlooked - it's a fictional narrative that introduces a real life event, but is more a coming of age story than being about the event itself. The idea that this is a story, simultaneously about, but not really about the Manson murders is so unique to me. It was an extremely well written novel, but not necessarily my taste - I do look forward to reading more from Emma Cline in the future.
Date published: 2017-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AMAZINNGGG This book is so incredibly amazing. It just completely engulfs you into the twisted world of a girl that gets mixed up in a cult. Watching her change mentally and emotionally is so interesting that you cannot possibly put it down!
Date published: 2017-04-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Ok This book dealt with some interesting subject manner. Not my favourite style of writing as I found there to be too much detail into irrelevant things but it was a quick read. I would recommend but not strongly, basically I wouldn't deter anyone from reading it.
Date published: 2017-03-31
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Missed the Mark 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
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Could have been better Not the best book, it definitely had some good moments but they were overshadowed by other things that were going on. Overall, the idea for this book was really good, it just didn't end up great.
Date published: 2017-03-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from a masterpiece! amazing. simply amazing. I loved every bit of this book. the details from her life/story was so enjoyable to follow along. It gives you a whole piece of what you were missing this whole time
Date published: 2017-03-16
Rated 2 out of 5 by from not the greatest I just could not get into this book no matter how hard I tried, its too descriptive with little action going on #plumreview
Date published: 2017-03-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from MEH I had read glowing reviews and recommendations for this book so I was excited to start it, but I just couldn't get into it. It wasn't as thrilling as I thought. A lot of time is spent on descriptions but very little happens.
Date published: 2017-03-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from good read Had me hooked from start to finish!
Date published: 2017-02-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Quite good And excellent debut novel. It was hard to put down and stuck with me well after I moved on to my next book. Though some parts seemed drawn out for the sake of adding length to the novel causing other scenes to feel rushes, and the narrator's tone, at times, one note. These are criticisms that you can give to anyone's first novel, and are really just nit picks.
Date published: 2017-02-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Wow i bought this book when it first came out. Just recently got to it and loved it!
Date published: 2017-02-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Detailed climb to the climax I picked this book up before Christmas and found that nothing interesting was happening, the detail and imagery was amazing. The flow of the book is really poetic and dreamy - kind of how image rich life in California during the the 60s was. I put it down over the Christmas holidays and didn't find that I was itching to finish it until I pushed through. Just over half way through the story and the characters to start to show their true colours. I have never read anything like this, and it was interesting reading about the allure of a cult - even when you wanted to shake your head and redirect Evie.
Date published: 2017-02-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Super trippy This book was really interesting to read! Super different and has an interesting take on what being drawn to a cult is like.
Date published: 2017-02-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Didn't live up to the hype. Maybe my expectations were too high for this one. The story didn't seem to go anywhere and was not engaging enough. The author's writing style was overly descriptive and I found it exhausting to read by the end of it.
Date published: 2017-02-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Different, but fascinating I have never read a book like The Girls. It was so interesting to read about Evie's mindset before, during and after everything that takes place.
Date published: 2017-01-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from great book! Well-written book, providing insight in the vulnerable mind.
Date published: 2017-01-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Slight and thought spare prose leaves lots of room for you to fill in the details.
Date published: 2017-01-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Beautifully written Great nuance and perspective when it comes to the inner musings of the 14 year old narrator, less nuance and perspective when it comes to the elements of the cult itself.
Date published: 2016-12-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Awesome read I loved this book! Had a good pace and suspense throughout. Kept me guessing what kind of trouble this girl would end up in. I was a little disappointed that the character didn't get much resolve by the ending though.
Date published: 2016-12-09
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not sure what the hype is all about... Just alright for me... Interesting subject though
Date published: 2016-12-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Highly recommend This book was chilling. I was afraid to read it, but pushed myself outside my usual comfort zone and I was glad that I did... it's chilling.
Date published: 2016-11-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting! I found this book to be quite interesting. The first 3/4 were great -- but the ending I wish it was a big longer. It's a fast read and ends quickly. But enjoyable! It's a fast read and I would recommend it.
Date published: 2016-11-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Over-hyped I didn't think this book stood up to all the hype it's received. Three-quarters of the book was devoted to developing the storyline which killed the blow of the last quarter. It was interesting, well written and a fast read but reminded me of a riff off of The Manson Family.
Date published: 2016-11-19
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not for me Why are people so fascinated by the weird and creepy? Take for example car crashes. You’re driving down the 401 and you notice traffic is slowing down to that awful line of cars that fills you with that feeling of dread in your stomach. You’re waiting and wondering and slowly creeping by until you notice there’s been an accident! You immediately perk up to have a better look, to investigate the scene and suddenly, for a moment, you’re no longer worried about the line or the slow crawl you’re moving at. Strange isn’t it? Are you that person that watches crime dramas? Are you that person who instantly in hyper focus when they mention kidnappings or cults on the news? If you’re nodding along and looking around you pretending you’re not nodding along then this book is for you! I don’t even know how I feel about this book. When I was in high school I was always fascinated by cults. I wanted to know everything about them. I also wanted to know what happens to your body when you die, how serial killers tick, and what romantic comedy to watch next. So I was a bit morbid but also fairly normal. I spoke to a few friends about this and they said the exact same thing so either all my friends are just as weird as I am or this just happens to be a phenomenon that baffles people. That was quite the tangent there, what I’m getting at is I wonder if I read this book in a different time in my life I would’ve enjoyed it more. For me it was just a book about a poor little rich girl whose parents are divorced and wants to act out because she’s no longer the centre of attention. That’s all it was. Even when the woman is not re-imagining her childhood she just wants whomever she meets to be instantly in love with her (man, woman, child). The plot was pretty boring, I mean, … nothing happens! The entire time I was just sitting there thinking so is there a big reveal at the end? It was just eery and creepy and nothing about it made me want to finish it but I did because I promised I would write a review. My favourite part about reading is connecting with characters and seeing their development throughout the book. When that doesn’t happen I don’t feel a connection and I cannot seem to get through the book. Didn’t really see what all the hype was about but like I said earlier… people love the weird and creepy. As long as it isn’t happening to them.
Date published: 2016-11-17
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointed I was so excited to read this and was incredibly disappointed when I did. I don't understand what all the hype is about. The main character just seems sad and a bit hopeless.
Date published: 2016-11-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A little predictable It was a little predictable, but it was a fast and interesting read.
Date published: 2016-11-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from a good read After I saw all the praise this book was getting, I was a bit skeptical to read it as I often find most books don't deserve the hype they get. However, this novel was quite enjoyable, and Cline has a very unique way of writing. I couldn't wait to find out how it all ended, and overall I thought the novel's conclusion was satisfying. #plumreview
Date published: 2016-11-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Creepy I was terrified to read this book, but I was so glad that I did. It was just as creepy as I'd hoped it would be - well worth the read.
Date published: 2016-11-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from interesting my friend asked me to read this and tell her if it was good so i did... I had no idea I was reading about a cult when i first started!! i guess thats what i get for not not reading the description before
Date published: 2016-11-16
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Over-rated I did not care for this novel. Ive read a ton of books; this one is not only boring, but its disturbing in its choice of words and phrases. Not the best read. If you are only going to read a few books this year; I don't recommend this one
Date published: 2016-11-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from okay this book was okay, not quite what i thought. the whole time i was reading it, it felt like the book was missing something
Date published: 2016-11-13
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not What I Was Expecting Unfortunately, I didn't even really finish this book. I just couldn't get into it! I skimmed a lot of it and completely ignored the rest. Disappointed since there was so much buildup and anticipation for its release.
Date published: 2016-11-11
Rated 2 out of 5 by from not a fan You may as well just read Helter Skelter or research Charles Manson she took so much from it then labeled it as fiction. Managed to get through the whole book (even though I was annoyed) so that is a good thing?
Date published: 2016-11-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So good! I was very hesitant to read this book, only because the content matter actually scared me a little. But I was so glad I pushed myself to go outside of my comfort zone and read this book because it truly was chilling!
Date published: 2016-11-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Really enjoyed this! Great summer read. Really engaging and hard to put down!
Date published: 2016-11-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Weird.. The events in this book were very odd. However I could not put it down, which at times made me feel uncomfortable.. loved the writing though, would definitely read another book by Emma Cline.
Date published: 2016-11-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Very Bizarre but with good writing My book club picked this book, and the one thing we really appreciated was that this book does not romance being in a cult, and descriptively makes it sound unappealing. The writing is excellent, but the main character is hard to like.
Date published: 2016-11-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful and grippinng Absolutely stunning book. Palpable tension, unique but beautiful writing, and an uncanny ability to mesmerize the reader. I absolutely could not put it down. Utterly satisfying.
Date published: 2016-08-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A 14-year-old girl gets entangled in a dangerous cult in 1969 California It’s the summer of 1969. Evie Boyd is 14 and lives in Northern California. Her parents have recently divorced, and she feels lonely and abandoned. When she meets a group of young women in a park, she envies their apparent happiness and freedom. She is instantly drawn to Suzanne Parker, a glamorous and mesmerizing girl. Evie spends more and more time at the group’s commune, a dilapidated ranch run by their charismatic leader, Russell Hadrick. These young people appear to be peaceful and harmless, taking drugs and drinking all day long. But disturbing elements slowly come to light until everything starts to unravel, and three adults and one child are brutally murdered. The Girls is a completely engrossing read. The writing is elaborate, and the descriptions are vivid and colourful. The story is told in flashbacks by middle-aged Evie. The events in her past deeply affected her, and she seems to still be trying to make sense of them. The book is based on the Manson murders, but Emma Cline was more interested in the girls surrounding the cult leader than Russel himself. In fact, she depicts him as an aging man and a third-rate musician. Still, he knows how to charm his audience and is clearly manipulative. Evie is the perfect candidate for him: a young, impressionable girl who doesn’t have any friends. However, I must say that I wasn’t really interested in present-day Evie. The 1969 story would have been enough for me. On the whole though, I really enjoyed this novel, and I can see why there was so much buzz about it. The Girls was sent to me for free in exchange for an honest review. Please go to my blog, Cecile Sune - Bookobsessed, if you would like to read more reviews or discover fun facts about books and authors.
Date published: 2016-08-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved it Finished this book in only a couple days!
Date published: 2016-07-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Addictive! This book was addictive and engaging to read, I couldn't put it down! You'll find yourself making justifications of "just one more chapter".
Date published: 2016-07-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Summer read Great summer read! Compelling and quick, you'll not want to put this book down.
Date published: 2016-06-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Haunting and Timely The Girls is told from the point of view of a middle aged woman named Evie, with flashbacks from her life as a 14 year old girl and her indoctrination into a Manson Family-like cult after a chance encounter with one of it's members - Suzanne. I've always been fascinated by the Manson Family, so I was intrigued to read The Girls. The murders depicted committed by the fictional cult bear many similarities to the Tate killings by members of The Family. Suzanne is reminiscent of Susan (Sadie) Atkins and it's difficult not to make comparisons to other Manson Family members as characters are introduced. Most of the girls in the fictional cult appear to be a composite of the real life Manson girls. Evie's involvement with the cult is not the whole of the book - far from it. The Girls is essentially a coming of age story and one that is rich in detail. There is an ethereal, hazy quality to the book. You can almost feel the warm, lazy, floaty summer days of California in the 60's. There is so much background to Evie's story. She's lonely and envious of the bonds people share, made evident when she sees Suzanne for the first time and her closeness with the other girls. When a distance develops between Evie and her best friend, it is clear that she will become involved with the cult, mostly due to her growing fixation with Suzanne. There is a sense of foreboding of what is to come and I wanted to know how far Evie would go. The comparison to the real life murders and The Family is something that I initially found interesting in the novel, but yet in no way does this detract from the enjoyment of the story for those unfamiliar with them. If anything it is probably beneficial to have little to no knowledge of the real case, as I found myself constantly referring to what I knew about the actual story behind it. In some ways I would have preferred the author to have created her own cult/crimes, as opposed to relying so heavily on Manson's, as it removed some of the author's own creativity. However, saying this, I still felt this was an engrossing, haunting and timely novel that I would recommend.
Date published: 2016-06-17

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.

Bookclub Guide

1. The Girls takes place in the summer of 1969. When Evie explains the era to Sasha, she says “It was a different time … Everyone ran around” (144). Do you think that what happened to Evie could have only happened in the 1960s? Or is her story a timeless story? How might her story be different, if it happened today?2. One of the central relationships in The Girls is between Evie and Suzanne. What did you make of their connection? The first time they meet, Suzanne is hesitant to let Evie come along (94-95). Does she sense something about Evie from the very beginning? What might it be?3. Evie describes the “constant project of our girl selves” and the specific attentions that project requires—the make-up, the grooming rituals. Did you see a parallel in Evie’s mother’s behavior? What are the similarities and differences between Evie’s “constant project” and her mother’s new search for “an aim, a plan”?4. 1.      In looking back at the time before her parents got divorced, Evie describes “the freedom of being so young that no one expected anything from me” (78). Do you think that freedom still exists when she is a teenager—or has it already disappeared? Why might that sense of freedom start to vanish, as she gets older?5. Evie delineates the difference between the attention girls can get from boys, and the attention they can get from other girls: “Girls are the only ones who can really give each other close attention, the kind we equate with being loved” (34). What do you make of this? Is something all of the girls in this story are aware of, consciously or unconsciously? Do you think it holds true forever, or does it change as girls grow older?6. At the same time, though, Evie says that she “didn’t really believe friendship could be an end in itself, not just the background fuzz to the dramatics of boys loving you or not loving you” (49). How does this notion change and evolve as the story goes on? Do you consider Evie’s relationship with Suzanne to be a friendship, or something different?7. Evie is constantly sizing up other girls and women, measuring their beauty and assessing them “with brutal and emotionless judgment” (34). But Suzanne, she decides, “wasn’t beautiful … It was something else” (68). How does this complicate her understanding of, or attraction to, Suzanne? Is beauty something that is valued by Russell, Suzanne and others, in the world of the ranch? 8. What did you make of Evie’s dynamic with Sasha? What similarities to—and differences from—her teenage self might Evie see in Sasha? Why do you think Evie tells Sasha so much about her past? 9. Why do you think Evie decides to mess with Teddy Dutton, when she brings his dog back to his house? Does she have a newfound feeling of power, after spending time at the ranch? Do you think that interaction with Teddy paves the way for her and the girls’ later intrusion into the Dutton house? 10. Were you surprised by the character of Tamar, and her relationship with Evie? How does Tamar differ from the other girls and women in the story—from Suzanne, from Connie, from Evie’s mother? 11. Looking back, Evie questions whether she might have known what Suzanne and the others were planning, and whether she would have participated: “Maybe I would have done something, too. Maybe it would have been easy” (321). Do you think Evie would have gone through with it, if she had stayed in the car? Why, or why not?12. At the end, Evie describes Suzanne letting her go as “a gift” (351), allowing Evie to have the normal life that Suzanne herself could not. But she reflects that it might have been easier to be punished and redeemed, as Suzanne was. What did you make of Evie’s still-conflicted feelings about that chapter in her life? Would it ever be possible for someone in Evie’s situation to make peace with the past? If so, what do you think prevents her from doing so?  

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) “Cline’s exquisite set pieces are the equal of her intricate unwinding of Evie’s emotions. . . . 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. You wonder why more people don’t write them.”—New York Magazine “Hypnotizing . . . [Cline’s] eagle-eyed take on the churnings and pitfalls of adolescence—longing to be wanted, feeling seen, getting discarded—rarely misses its mark. In truth, it’s this aspect of The Girls . . . that stays with us after Evie’s whirlwind story concludes.”—San Francisco Chronicle “Gorgeous, disquieting, and really, really good . . . [Cline’s] prose conveys a kind of atmospheric dread, punctuated by slyly distilled observation. . . . What Cline does in The Girls is to examine, even dissect, these shifts between power and powerlessness that characterize a girl’s coming of age. . . . Cline, born years after the events she explores, brings a fresh and discerning eye to both the specific, horrific crime at her book’s center, one firmly located in a time and place, and the timeless, slow-motion tragedy of a typical American girlhood.”—Los Angeles Times “A hypnotic, persuasively melancholy performance . . . The surprise of this novel is its almost studious avoidance of shock and sensationalism. . . . What Ms. Cline delivers instead is an atmosphere of eerie desolation and balked desire thanks to her sensuous turns of phrase.”—The Wall Street Journal “[The Girls is] a heady evocation of the boredom and isolation of adolescence in pre-internet suburbia, in houses deserted by their restless, doubt-stricken adult proprietors. . . . The adult Evie has never shaken the memory of the ranch, and Cline gradually makes clear that’s not because it was so very different from the average run of American life, but because it was, underneath it all, so similar.”—Slate “Cline’s book is stunning, exceeding all expectations. . . . A spectacular achievement.”—The Times “Taut, beautiful and savage, Cline’s novel demands your attention.”—The Guardian “In her stunning debut novel, Emma Cline captures the powerful allure of California’s carefree late-sixties spirit through the eyes of a teenage girl seduced by a Manson-like cult.”—Harper’s Bazaar “The buzziest book of the summer.”—Good Housekeeping “As addictive as it is shocking.”—Marie Claire “A dark, seductive coming-of-age story, The Girls is the thrilling account of a young woman getting sucked into a terrifying world.”—Buzzfeed “[A]s fast-moving as a van on the run, as dark and atmospheric as the smog it cuts through . . . A complex story about girlhood, violence, and the psychology of cults, carried by the author’s buoyant sentences and easy insights into the paradoxes of femininity.”—The Huffington Post “[A] thrilling coming-of-age novel imbued with an anxious urgency. As the drama builds and your eyes widen, it becomes ever more impossible to find a stopping point in this beautifully written book.”—Refinery29 “Longing and desire are the twin forces ricocheting in Cline’s beast of a debut. . . . It is one of the darkest and most alluring coming-of-age novels to drop in a good while. . . . Cline is an enviable talent right out of the starting gate.”—Electric Literature “The Girls is seductive and mesmerizing, packed with language that’ll leave your pages dog-eared. You’ll feel like you’re in a fever dream as you read about an infamous cult of young women in 1960s Northern California. The Girls is a book that’ll stay with you all summer.”—Elle  “The Girls is an exploration of the precariousness of being a teenage girl and the perils of craving acceptance. . . . Cline has created a perfect slow burner of a story. Her writing is languid and astute, and the rapport she establishes with her audience is like a cat courting a mouse that it plans to consume.”—BookPage “A thrilling debut novel about the power and danger of girlhood.”—PopSugar “[A] provocative, wonderfully written debut . . . Cline is especially perceptive about the emulation and competition, the longing and loss, that connect her novel’s women and their difficult, sometimes destructive passages to adulthood. . . . The Girls is less about one night of violence than about the harm we can do, to ourselves and others, in our hunger for belonging and acceptance.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review) “In her impressive debut, Cline illuminates the darkest truths of a girl’s coming-of-age, telling a story that is familiar on multiple levels in a unique and compelling way.”—Booklist (starred review) “Vivid and ambitious.”—Kirkus Reviews“The Girls is a brilliant and intensely consuming novel—imposing not just for a writer so young, but for any writer, any time.”—Richard Ford“Emma Cline has an unparalleled eye for the intricacies of girlhood, turning the stuff of myth into something altogether more intimate. She reminds us that behind so many of our culture’s fables exists a girl: unseen, unheard, angry. This book will break your heart and blow your mind.”—Lena Dunham “Emma Cline’s first novel positively hums with fresh, startling, luminous prose. The Girls announces the arrival of a thrilling new voice in American fiction.”—Jennifer Egan “I don’t know which is more amazing, Emma Cline’s understanding of human beings or her mastery of language.”—Mark Haddon, New York Times bestselling author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time