The Manson Murders get a new take: The Girls

Emma Cline’s debut novel, The Girls, explores innocence, the malleability of youth, friendship, love, independence and the struggle for acceptance. Main character Evie Boyd craves freedom while pushing the boundaries of subtle manipulation.

The Girls is a fictional story story based on the Manson Murders of 1969. Cline uses poetic prose that perfectly portrays the thought process and characterizes how youthful Evie is. It is refreshing and expressive, but not a style that everyone will love. The Girls is a treat for lovers of language and poetry.

The Girls begins with Evie Boyd as an adult, housesitting for a friend and reflecting on the past in her initial solitude. Flashback to 1969 and 14 year old Evie has just begun her summer off from school. After a fight with her best friend, Evie leaves her house to pass time on a lonely summer day. Her boredom leads her to the park where she sees some girls dancing carelessly in the park. She is mesmerized, and can’t seem to forget the way they glided along. Evie eventually joins their cult and stays at their ranch for much of the summer.

What Cline does extremely well is shifting the tone of Evie’s thoughts as the book progresses. Her awe, wonder, and excitement are the only things guiding her decisions initially, but slowly she begins to feel weary of her choices, making excuses in order to allow herself to accept the twisted reality she, all the girls on the ranch, and their leader have created. The subtlety in her style makes this work phenomenally well for the reader.

This summer is one of change for Evie. She explores her sexuality to new extremes, but it appears she doesn’t fully accept it. As the book progresses, she becomes more and more enthralled with one of the girls on the ranch.

The Girls is a shocking and well written take on the Manson Murders that will keep you up late at night, craving to hear more of the story.