“The Girls” by Emma Cline is a hot new novel about Evie Boyd, a woman who grew up in California in the 1960s and 1970s. The film rights have already been optioned and the cover features praise from Lena Dunham, Mark Haddon and Emma Healey.

I’m liking

The novel starts dropping hints right from the beginning about how things are going to end, creating a feeling of foreboding. That might sound like a bad thing, but for me it was good. The hints became more explicit, releasing the tension bit by bit, and making it more of a story about why things went wrong for Evie in 1969, rather than a story about the things that went wrong.

I enjoyed the author’s perceptive comments about people, in particular about teenage girls. Evie is aware of how she is acting and how others are acting, and is still powerless to change anything. She suspects, or perhaps even knows, that the group and the woman she idolises are not perfect, but she wants them to be,so she ignores any doubts she has.This is a brilliant account of how a person can fool themselves, and how one bad outcome is made up of lots of little things. Even though my experience of being a teenage girl is quite different from Evie’s, I recognised myself in this book.

I’m impressed that Emma Cline was probably not even born in 1969 and yet chose to set her book then. I think the story is quite timeless, but the description of the late 60s felt authentic as far as I know!

Things that made me go hmmmm

I thought the title was a bit disappointing. It is appropriate for the book, but it’s not very memorable.

This book could be hard to read for someone who is having trouble with a teenage daughter – it might be too close to home.

It also features violence and drug use.

The conclusion

I will be very interested in developments about the movie, however I think the book will be better. Emma Clines’ gift is in the descriptions of the characters’ thoughts and Evie’s interpretations of them, which I think will be lost in the transition.

“The Girls” is a brilliant description of human behaviour. It has been receiving a lot of hype, and I think it deserves it.

Author

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