1. I thought, “Geez, and yet another novel about girls,” I guess I had in mind that fabulous article by Robin Wasserman about the unstoppable wave of “girl” titled books, but then.
2. As I read this novel, I realized that girls can wound and be wounded, powerful and powerless at the same time: “Poor girls. The world fattens them on the promise of love. How badly they need it, and how little most of them will ever get. The treacled pop songs, the dresses described in the catalogs with words like ‘sunset’ and ‘Paris.’ Then the dreams are taken away with such violent force; the hand wrenching the buttons of the jeans, nobody looking at the man shouting at his girlfriend on the bus.”
3. What is it that girls want? To be seen, heard, to be told what is good about them. Girls want love, friendship, their “energy subsumed into the theatrics of friendship.”
4. Because that is what this novel is about, friendship.
5. “We all want to be seen,” says Evie, the narrator, who is recalling her teenage years. Yes, she wanted to be seen, heard, understood, and the one person who did understand her happened to be Suzanne, a girl from a commune-cult that not only goes against the current of life, it creates its own current.
6. In this current, there is a leader, Russell, a man who “sought the famous and semifamous and hangers-on, people he could court and wring for resources, whose cars he could borrow and houses he could live in.” Russell who coaxes people just to suck the life out of them; he takes whatever he wants, and orders whatever he wants, like killing people, for example.
7. It all happens in the summer of 1969, the year people realized it was best to lock their doors.
8. In case you haven´t guessed, The Girls is based upon the Manson Family. It’s about Evie, who was only trying to campaign for her own existence, and ended up campaigning against society, just to fit in, just because she needed a friend, a girl friend.
9. Emma Cline arrives with a novel that elaborates on the intricacies of love and violence, she revisits the oddities of a life that resembles a dirty empty beach. Forget Manson, your eyes will fall upon Evie and Suzanne, girls who unravel around the borders.
10. Written in a language that slowly “crumbles away like debris,” The Girls reveals the not so delightful life of the suburbs, the not so dreamy life of teenagers: “We were in service of a deeper love. That´s how he said it, a deeper love, his voice booming from the ramshackle house in the California grasslands, and we played together like dogs, tumbling and biting and breathless with sun shock. We were barely adults, most of us, and our teeth were still milky and new.”
11. Cline carves this coming of age novel about a fugitive without a crime with sharp yet delicate images that illustrate the rituals, the sex, the love, the obsession, and the oh so many tidal waves of a truant life. She creates characters that the reader will love, hate, and pity all at the same time because they, all of them, are the result of a spell.
12. In case you still wonder, let me tell you one last thing: this is not a novel about the murders, this is a novel about the unmonitored territory of girls who can´t escape who they really are because “just being a girl in the world handicapped your ability to believe yourself. Feelings seemed completely unreliable, like faulty gibberish scraped from a Ouija board.”