|I waited for some time to get this arc and it was worth every day of longing. A friend and fellow book junkie on Goodreads had messaged me months ago about how much they knew I’d love it.
What had me hooked about this novel isn’t so much the crime later committed, similar to the Manson Family. It was the autopsy of Evie Boyd’s psyche, leaving nothing untouched in how a teenage girl (and let’s face it, many women) feel. It’s funny how women bury their younger selves and forget the fresh hell of never feeling at home in one’s own skin. I don’t think I have ever read a book as revealing as The Girls, you almost want to say ‘wait, don’t let on we have it this bad, that we’re this raw’. I spent the entire time highlighting everything that touched a nerve and there was a lot. Evie is struggling with being cast aside by her distant father once her parents divorce, and worse filled with equal amounts of embarrassment and revulsion about how hard her mother tries to please new men after living so long doing everything to appease Evie’s father -naturally she then feels a guilty shame for such mean unstoppable thoughts. To escape her sad household, Evie also falls under the spell of ‘the girls’. Seduced not just by a Manson like cult leader, but by the beauty and freedom of one older girl in particular- Suzanne. What is most disturbing is how easily Evie gives away herself, be it sexually or otherwise. Evie is, like most young women, hungry- for love, for life, for meaning, for attention, for everything- even if it means offering her very flesh to get it.
“She patted me, smiling so her face seemed to crack and reveal the full rush of her need.”
I could quote this novel until I kill it, but it would ruin the story for the rest of you. It was a painful read, and her poor mother with her own needs and awkward nature is easy to relate to. Most women wear this mask of confidence but life is just as hard in 2016 for a female as it was in 1969, maybe more so for how harshly we are judged now for our imperfections. Certainly the novel is about how Evie falls for The Girls and wants to cast off the world for the one Russell has created at the ranch. Here, she is family, they are one and she doesn’t have to be that unlovable, rejected average girl. There is enough love to go around, it is IDEAL- and we all know how things like that end. Human nature always bubbles to the surface, and how can any place be ideal when someone has power over you?