Audiobook Review: The Girls by Emma Cline

The GirlsThe Girls by Emma Cline
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: June 14, 2016
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Publisher’s Description:

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.

The Girls is the story of Evie, a fourteen year old girl who befriends an older girl, Suzanne, who is a member of a cult that that lives on a ranch in Northern California. It is very obviously a fictionalized version of the Manson Family. I’ve been intrigued by Charles Manson and his hold over his “family” for years so when I heard about his book, I knew I had to read it. Evie’s perspective is of someone just barely on the outside looking in. Suzanne is one of the girls in the cult’s leader Russell’s harem. She strikes up a friendship with Evie and it’s her, rather than Russell, that Evie becomes obsessed with.

Most everything I’ve read about Charles Manson has been focused on how and why he became a monster. Though fictional, this book is about the girls in the cult. Russell is a supporting character. It’s Suzanne that Evie wants to impress, maybe even wants to be. I know I have wondered how Manson could get all those women to blindly follow him and believe the madness he was spouting. After getting to know Suzanne and Evie, I felt like I could better understand the real-life Manson girls as well.

Emma Cline’s prose is amazing. I listened to the audiobook and there were many times that I wanted to pull over to the side of the road to jot down a line or two that I thought was particularly beautiful or witty. Unfortunately, I didn’t actually do that and I can’t remember anything specific. You’ll just have to trust me that she’s an amazing author.

I really liked the narrator of this audiobook. Her voice had a dreamy tone to it that was perfect for a book set in the hazy, hippie world of 1960s Northern California. I would love to go back and read it in print just to have a visual in my mind of the wonderful metaphors and similes that Cline uses. I cannot wait to see what she has in store for us next. Because believe it or not, The Girls is her debut novel. Whatever it is, I’ll be first in line.


  • Kate Scott

    It seems like people either loved or hated this book. I’m in the latter camp, although I totally agree with you about the quality of the writing and narration (I also listened to the audiobook). The characters fell short for me. I never felt like I could empathize or connect withe Evie and Suzanne didn’t seem all that compelling. The whole thing left me feeling unsatisfied.

  • bermudaonion(Kathy)

    I’ve got this in print and have picked it up a couple of times for some reason. I think I’d like it, though, because I find the Manson Family fascinating in a macabre sort of way.

  • HeatherAnne Norbury

    Hmmm. This doesn’t sound like my usual to pick up but I do love good writing. Is there interpersonal violence?

    • ChaosIsAFriend

      Yes, a couple of pretty graphic incidents.

  • S.G. Wright

    I liked this book and think it lived up to the hype. It was well done. Here is my thoughts on it here