The Girls by Emma Cline | LJ Review

26893819__1463757331_15020redstarCline, Emma. The Girls. Random. Jun. 2016. 368p. ISBN 9780812998603. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780812998610. F
It is the summer of 1969 in Northern California, and 14-year-old Evie Boyd is bored and lonely. Ignored by her recently divorced parents and alienated from her friend ­Connie, Evie is intrigued by a trio of hippie girls she spots in a local park, studying them “with a shameless, blatant gape.” Their dirty smock dresses, long uncombed hair, and careless independent manner are so different from Evie’s own neat and tidy childish world, and she longs to be accepted by them, especially by cool, otherworldly ­Suzanne. Edie starts small, offering to shoplift toilet paper and then stealing money from her preoccupied mother to impress Suzanne and Russell, the girls’ charismatic leader. Before long, she is hanging out at the group’s rundown communal ranch in the hills, feeling for the first time that she’s part of a family—even though this “family” happens to be a cult that will soon be making headlines in the most horrific way. VERDICT Although inspired by the infamous Charles Manson murders, Cline’s impressive debut is more a harrowing coming-of-age exploration of how far a young girl will go (and how much she will give up of herself) in her desperate quest to belong. Beautifully written and unforgettable. [See Prepub Alert, 1/4/16; ­“Editors’ Spring Picks,” LJ 2/15/16, p. 32.]—Wilda Williams, Library Journal

This review was published in Library Journal’s May 15, 2016 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35 percent off the regular subscription rate.