Thursday, 29 September 2016

The Girls: Book Review | The Small Desk

I am tempted to write to Emma Cline to request that she only allows one man to make a film out of her book and that would be the director of the film, Marshland, Alberto Rodríguez Librero. You only have to watch the trailer to see what I mean about a film that is so beautifully crafted yet deals with an equally violent plot line. The Girls is a book that if made into a film would require a very sensitive adaptation. Yet when I watch an interview of Cline by Vintage books she states she doesn't want have anything to do with an adaptation of the book into a film; she is done with the book, she wants to move on and write something new. I imagine this is because of the subject nature of the book, one must have to create distance in order to stay sane.

This book is written so beautifully well. There were times when it got so harrowing I didn't know if I wanted to carry on reading, but I was drawn back in by wanting to read the way Cline had composed the next sentence. A quote on the front of the book reads 'I don't know which is more amazing, Emma Cline's understanding of human beings or her mastery of language', and I agree. But until I read that quote I had not fully grasped how good her descriptions of the character's emotions were, and how powerful the little relatable lines she had added were that I simply gobbled down on while devouring the story. Unbelievably this is Cline's debut novel; but the publishers knew it was gold and it was fought over ending with a record-breaking debut advance.

The Girls centres around one girl called Evie Boyd. It is set in the summer of 1969 in California. Evie's parents are divorced – she suffers the anxieties and troubles of the stereotypical child of a broken home, but her way of finding solace and a sense of belonging is not through a stereotypical teenage way of rebelling.

Evie sees the girls for the first time in the distance in a park – a vision from afar. Later she stumbles upon Suzanne, the leader of the girls, caught stealing in a nearby shop. From here Evie actively pushes herself into the pack of girls. She is led to the ranch the girls live on with their leader of sorts, named Russell. The story line is very similar to the Charles Manson case that also happened in the summer of 1969: Cline does not dismiss this as a source of inspiration. The girls are described as so floaty and careless yet animalistic and wild, but ultimately puppets of Russell.

What is really powerful about this novel is that it is told from the perspective of both a young and old Evie. We, as the reader see her anxieties grow worse as she ages, and how her experiences haunt her, and never leave her.

It is the type of book you do not forget easily; the type of book where you feel you almost have to say goodbye to the characters out loud; and the type of book that you will recommend with trepidation as the writing is so good but the plot line so harrowing.


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