By Emma Cline
Penguin Random House
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 mesmerising 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 realise she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.
A deep edgy and mesmerising tale of a young teenager desperate for attention.
Evie a 14 year old girl is a bit bored of life, bored of her friend Connie, annoyed at her parent’s divorce, angry her mum brings home ridiculous boyfriends every week. She seems lonely and sad until she comes across some ferrel looking “cool” girls in the park. She gets to know them as invited to The Ranch, a decrepit old house full of girls not wearing dirty clothes and no shoes, there’s no food and they are all in deep adoration for a man called Russell… The Girls and Russell take in Evie like one of their own. They are almost hippy-esq, free loving, have no possessions, all have sex with Russell like he is some kind of God. Little does she know Evie has joined a cult.
The book is set into two narratives, A middle aged Evie reflecting on her younger self. She doesn’t seem to have got far with life still bumming around and living in strange houses with people. The other part is what happened back when she was 14 and her how she got mixed up with The Ranch people.
The book was quite slow paced but written so beautifully, I couldn’t put it down I just loved the flowing description of places, people and Evie’s feelings. It was quite a dark book in places some of the graphic sexual scenes made me feel uncomfortable but that was the whole point of it. What I liked about this book was the comparison of the dark side and the innocent side. Evie knew these people were bad and the things she started to do where against her middle class moral compass but she just wanted to be accepted and part of something so carried on like a naive and innocent 14 year old would do. Although The Range seemed disgusting, dirty and the people in it odd, it still had this strange air of magic, I guess because you are seeing it all through Evie’s eyes.
Apparently the book is based on Charles Manson and his followers, which I didn’t quite get until the gruesome ending. Throughout the book you know as a reader that something isn’t quite right and it was all building up for something to happen. You could even see that Evie knew this but she continued to feign innocence and hang out with them, ignoring all warning signs.
A hauntingly beautiful coming of age novel, I was absorbed in the story from start to finish a real must read.
Have you read The Girls or anything else by Emma Cline? What were your thoughts? I would love to know. Katie x