Book Review: The Girls by Emma Cline

The Girls

As the summer of 2018 was coming to an end, I decided to live through the summer of 1969. But, I wasn’t alone, Beth @ Bibliobeth joined me, as our September buddy read was The Girls by Emma Cline.


Evie Boyd is desperate to be noticed. In the summer of 1969, empty days stretch out under the California sun. The smell of honeysuckle thickens the air and the sidewalks radiate heat.

Until she sees them. The snatch of cold laughter. Hair, long and uncombed. Dirty dresses skimming the tops of thighs. Cheap rings like a second set of knuckles. The girls.

And at the centre, Russell. Russell and the ranch, down a long dirt track and deep in the hills. Incense and clumsily strummed chords. Rumours of sex, frenzied gatherings, teen runaways.

Was there a warning, a sign of things to come? Or is Evie already too enthralled by the girls to see that her life is about to be changed forever?


The Girls is an extremely atmospheric read, one that may be ideal for those who enjoy literary fiction and reading about cults. Evie is young, and impressionable, and when she meets Suzanne, she desperately wants to fit in. As the days roll by, you see how life is for Russell and his followers, the girls, does Evie get the chance to be one of the girls, or is she always on the peripheral, never really fitting in? Little does Evie know, the summer of 1969 will shape her life forever, and become one she will never forget.

Part one, of this novel, sets the scene, shows you Evie’s relationship with her mother, and her best friend; it shows you Evie as a fourteen-year-old girl, and this is important in helping the reader understand the events that will follow. It took me a few pages to settle into Cline’s writing style, but once I did, I loved it – it’s hazy, hypnotic, it’s gritty, gripping.

You immediately warm to Evie because you can see she’s ‘playing pretend’ at being older that her years, you just know she’s heading for trouble and you want to tell her to stop, just enjoy her youth and not be in such a hurry to grow up! You may see comparisons between Evie and your younger self, not necessarily in her actions, but the driving force behind them – the desire to fit in, to be liked, to be sexy, feeling pressured to engage in reckless behaviour while playing it cool. There were so many moments in this novel that showed that, with all the innocence of a kid, Evie was thrust into this world of adultness, and she tried to cope as best she could. Her vulnerability is endearing because that older, wiser person in you just wants to protect her, and that’s what makes you invested in the story. That, and the desire to know what event caused this group to implode!

What you see with Russell and his girls is essentially a cult, a close-knit community where sex and drugs are rife. The girls wear dirty clothes, hygiene is not a priority, young children are running around unsupervised, and when you read this novel, you get a sense of discomfort from the way these people are living.

In between the summer of ’69, you hear from Evie as an adult, and this was really comforting, because you knew, no matter how bad things got, Evie survived it. However, to see if she survived unscathed, you’ll have to read The Girls for yourself.

There’s some fairly shocking moments in this novel, both brutal and heartbreaking. I highly recommend you relive the summer of ’69 through Evie’s eyes, the sex, drugs, infatuation, and manipulation of a young girl who makes some unwise decisions and has no choice but to learn to live with the consequences.

This book is available to buy from: Amazon UK / Book Depository

Previous buddy reads with Beth

The Fireman by Joe Hill – My review / Beth’s review

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – My review / Beth’s review

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – My review / Beth’s review

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid – My review / Beth’s review

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel – My review / Beth’s review

33 thoughts on “Book Review: The Girls by Emma Cline

  1. Fantastic review! I’ve heard so much about this one, I like how atmospheric it sounds and how you describe it. Have you read Helter Skelter, the true crime about the Manson murders? I’ve generally avoided the topic but it’s supposed to be one of the best true crime narratives, maybe would be interesting to see how it compares with this novel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is actually one of the very few non-fiction books I have read and it was brilliant! Disturbing but brilliant! Really well done and scary!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. haha not quite yet! 😂I do love hearing about what’s happening in fiction, though! I don’t know why I’ve always felt averse to the Manson story…something about it has always just deeply creeped me out without feeling like I need to know more about it, if that makes sense?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think the psychology of it all fascinated me! It’s amazing how much power he had over all those people!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I like how you said her writing style was hazy, that is the perfect description! Fantastic review!💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, that’s understandable, I remember when this one was published, there was quite a divide on reviews! I’ve had the odd book thats left me stumped on whether I like it or not, lol, I almost wanted to make a pro/con list 😂


  3. Awesome review! I don’t usually read stories set so “far” back, but after watching Aquarius i’m kind of in the mood. Also have the audio book so i think i’ll read/listen parallel.
    Can’t wait for the grittiness and atmosphere 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. If I remember, it is based on Charles Manson and going in I didn’t know much other than the fact that he was a cult leader. So that ending shocked me to my core. I don’t remember Evie’s friends name, but it was quite a turn of events to see how different their lives turned out. I think her friend was trying to save her in a way.
    Good review. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not too familiar with the Charles Manson case, but after enjoying this one, I plan to read Helter Skelter – the true crime book based on Manson. I find the psychological behind cults so interesting.

      Evie’s friend, Connie?? I’m not sure she was trying to help her, i thought she wasn’t there at a crucial time when Evie needed her…. I don’t want to elaborate as I don’t want to put spoilers in the comments.

      Either way, I’m looking forward to reading another book from Cline. And I’m so glad you enjoyed my review! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Because we’re so in sync. I’ll tell you my secret, I screen shot all the review-worthy things I say to you in the discussion then basically turn that into a coherent review. 🙊

      Whenever I read your reviews of our buddy reads, I always wish I’d included something you said, or phrased it the way you did. I think it’s a book bloggers nature to never be satisfied with their reviews 😂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No way, really?! Coz that’s the way I feel when I read YOUR reviews! Like when you talked about if Evie comes through unscathed or not? Brilliant. Totally going to steal your moves now 😂 (screen-shotting) and thank you for making me feel a MILLION times better about my reviews which I never think are good enough!! 😘

        Liked by 1 person

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