The Girls by Emma Cline – Book Review

26893819Synopsis (from Goodreads.com) – 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, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

My thoughts – If you know anything about the Manson family or the murders they committed in the 70s, understand cults, or were a confused young girl on the verge of adulthood, then this is the book for you.

Emma Cline’s prose are almost like reading poetry. Her attention to detail in each moment makes you feel like you’re absolutely there. However, there were moments throughout the story where I felt the language got in the way of the pace spending time describing the expressions of a drugged out girl to explain that yeah, she’s going to do something drastic.

However, I think what really drew me to this story was the fact that this was me and this is a lot of young women the main character’s age. You find Evie Boyd at the precipice of high school. She’s not friends with the kids she knew when she was younger, but she hasn’t decided who her new friends would be. She needed adventure, but more importantly she needed to seek out the adventure on her own.

More importantly if you were the girl who thought you had it all until you realized you were just background noise to another person’s life. How do you break away? How do you find your own voice and sense of self when the world revolves around someone else?

“That was part of being a girl–you were resigned to whatever feedback you’d get. 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.”

Evie is on her way to a life designed by her mother. She ached for something different than what she’s come across. Then, she sees this group of girls around her age who’re stealing toilet paper from a drugstore and dumpster diving for dinner. As someone with an open mind, this may be the kind of scene you want to learn more about. This may be the group of friends that will help define who you are for the next ten years.

And you see that for Evie it did. Granted her circumstances are a little bit different than most girls her age, but that’s not the point. The point is that there are moments and people that affect you. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. While she never really prescribed to the philosophy Russell, the group leader, was spewing, she found it fascinating that other people did. She was the anthropologist to this little group of rebellious teenagers and maybe she fell a little too inline with their thoughts.

“Poor girls. The world fattens them on the promise of love. How badly they need it, and how little most of them will ever get.”

As adults, we forget that kids don’t know much of anything. And this is much more prevalent to girls than to boys, sadly. It’s only from exposure to other cultures do we know there’s a life outside of the bubble. I think it’s extremely important for people to reach out of their safety zones and explore the world for a little while. It might be something small like a group of kids living off the land and the means they were provided. It could be that these teens were being bred for something bigger than themselves, but that’s for the youth to decide. You can’t shelter young people forever. You an either guide them through the harshness of life or you can watch them walk blindly into the lion’s den.

“She was lost in that deep and certain sense that there was nothing beyond her own experience. As if there were only one way things could go, the years leading you down a corridor to the room where your inevitable self waited–embryonic, ready to be revealed. How sad it was to realize that sometimes you never got there. That sometimes you lived a whole life skittering across the surface as the years passed, unblessed.”

All of this to say that life isn’t going to be perfect and sometimes you need to try something different for a little while before you find your true self.

October 2016 Library Book Haul

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I started loving books or going to the library, but I did. I don’t even think it had anything to do with the books, but the fact that there’s this public place you can come to and study, rent books, and escape from reality. Because the truth is that only a certain kind of person goes to the library and those people are the dreamers.

Scratch that, the truth is that homeless people go to the library because it’s warm and there’s a free bathroom.

But I go to the library or a bookstore or any place you can patron that has books because I’m just your typical book lover. I love to read books, be around books, and generally want to be a book.

tumblr_inline_n94owf5jeg1sybzrb

There’s a magic when you arrive. The air is musty from the older reference books and the temperature is cold to keep the publicly used computers nice and cool.

My childhood library was amazing. There were three stories of books all ranging from children’s to research and I remember spending my time from when I was really young (maybe 6-7) to when I graduated from high school there. I’d be a part of the reading program every summer and at one point wanted to work at the library. I ended up spending my lunch periods in high school helping out in the school library and putting books back on the shelf. I was that lame.

It took me a while to get back to the library mostly because there was a scene in the movie The Squid and the Whale where the young kid masturbates in the stacks and then wipes his semen on the spines of the books. That swore me off from those books for a few years. I didn’t want to touch nasty books especially when I live in the same city as the characters from that movie.

But I’ve managed to quell my OCD thoughts from what might be on those books and started to take advantage of the library system again.

All of this to say, I’ve got some great reads from the library and I’m sharing them with you now.

272461151. Siracusa by Delia Ephron – New Yorkers Michael, a famous writer, and Lizzie, a journalist, travel to Italy with their friends from Maine—Finn, his wife Taylor, and their daughter Snow. “From the beginning,” says Taylor, “it was a conspiracy for Lizzie and Finn to be together.” Told Rashomon-style in alternating points of view, the characters expose and stumble upon lies and infidelities past and present. Snow, ten years old and precociously drawn into a far more adult drama, becomes the catalyst for catastrophe as the novel explores collusion and betrayal in marriage. 

Ephron delivers a meditation on marriage, friendship, and the meaning of travel. Set on the sun-drenched coast of the Ionian Sea, Siracusa unfolds with the pacing of a psychological thriller and delivers an unexpected final act that none can see coming.

I was going to read this right after I finished Commonwealth, but I’m starting to see that maybe this one is a little too close to what I’m reading now. I might hold off while I get a palate cleanser in there.

268938192. The Girls by Emma Cline – 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, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

I’ve been going back and forth with this one. In fact, this is my second time borrowing this book from the library because I haven’t made up my mind if I should read it or not. It’s because I like stories about Charles Manson, but I don’t want to read about the horrendous acts he made those people do.

Coincidentally, my office decided to have a book discussion on this read in a few weeks, so I figured I’ll read it with the intention of going to this book discussion and see how I feel about it.

286868403. Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven – Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for every possibility life has to offer. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

Ugh, I can already tell by the looks of this novel that it’s going to thrash my soul. I love Jennifer Niven and I was a huge fan of All the Bright Lights. Jennifer Niven has a tendency to hit some serious issues as well (depression, suicidal thoughts), so hopefully this won’t throw me into a panic.

274144344. The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia – Seventeen-year-old Frankie Devereux would do anything to forget the past. Haunted by the memory of her boyfriend’s death, she lives her life by one dangerous rule: Nothing matters. At least, that’s what Frankie tells herself after a reckless mistake forces her to leave her privileged life in the Heights to move in with her dad—an undercover cop. She transfers to a public high school in the Downs, where fistfights don’t faze anyone and illegal street racing is more popular than football.

Marco Leone is the fastest street racer in the Downs. Tough, sexy, and hypnotic, he makes it impossible for Frankie to ignore him—and how he makes her feel. But the risks Marco takes for his family could have devastating consequences for them both. When Frankie discovers his secret, she has to make a choice. Will she let the pain of the past determine her future? Or will she risk what little she has left to follow her heart?

I think this one will be the book I read next since it’s a little bit more light-hearted (ish) and not too close to Commonwealth’s plot. I’m actually really excited because I loved Beautiful Creatures and sometimes I guiltily re-watch the movie.

What about you? Do you love the library?