The Girls-Emma Cline
Summer of '69, Evie Boyd is jolted out of the stupor of her adolescence by the shining Suzanne who pulls her into the sphere of a cult.
Everyone has read this novel* and it is yet another of the dangerous young girls trope so popular lately. I'll sum up my feelings about that trope as follows: overdone and usually poorly concluded. Here it's coupled with my absolute least favorite decade. I'm aware that I have an almost knee jerk revulsion to the 60s-70s and it's very unhealthy for my blood pressure so if you like the 60s-70s, please don't continue reading because you will not agree with me about anything-I don't even like the Brady Bunch. I primarily despise the exaltation of what is a very toxic patriarchal masculinity that permeates so much of what is written/filmed about these decades. Ok, so this deep felt hatred for the 60s in my case actually is sustained by this book. Here Cline almost seems to agree with me. All the men in this book are universally obscene-sexually permeate asides to the real heart of the book, the girls-which is kind exactly how I feel about the decades...I also liked Cline's prose. The language is strange at times and bluntly crude in description but it works (as well as contributing to the overall obscenity of the men's actions).
I honestly am unsure about why I finished this book. I, like every morbid teenage girl, know quite a bit about the Manson murders (the reason I picked this book up) so I knew, immediately, what was going on and what was going to happen so maybe part of what spurred me on was the tension filled build to the conclusion I was expecting. But this in part was broken by the odd narrative structure of the 60s Evie who is busy being swept up into something super weird by her obsession with Suzanne and the aimless adult Evie who is dealing with a stranger girl teenager in thrall to a boy teenager and is reminiscing about the worst thing she ever did. (This is what annoys me so.much. about this dangerous young girls trope.) Adult Evie is ineffectual and I feel like Cline could've removed her except that of course not, because the lesson is that teenage girls can make such bad mistakes, in the 60s as well as nowadays. (Barf.) 60s Evie was much more evocative and compelling (or maybe it was Suzanne who was).
But still, many points to Cline for her prose which was not floaty in the least but in your face and kept me reading despite all the things I hated about what she was talking about.
*I want to link to a spectacular review which interpreted the Girls from a more race-centric view. I found it fascinating and considering that this book about the 60s, a turbulent decade for American race culture, is so white-centric, it's a necessary read.