The Girls, by Emma Cline

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Alienated teenage girl Evie Boyd is trying to cope with her parents’ divorce, a sudden rift with her longtime best friend, and the usual teenage confusion and angst-ridden misery. One day, while out on her own, she meets a charismatic older teen named Suzanne, and her summer takes her on a wild ride that no one will ever forget.

Suzanne lives on a ranch in northern California where she and various other social misfits have created a counter-culture community. The ’60s are no longer in full swing, but the free love and rejection of materialism and selfishness are like sweet nectar for impressionable Evie. The leader of the cult is Russell, and he encourages the women to share themselves with him…and anyone else he offers up as well. Drugs, sex, impoverished living conditions and a crowd of miscreant members of society…They feel at first like exactly what Evie needs. Her anger with her parents, her hurt at the rejection of her best friend, her feeling of otherness wherever she goes… She wants to be a part of something. To matter.

The commune welcomes her with open arms, but she learns the hard way that there is a price to pay, and it is her own innocence. As pressure increases on the ranch and Russell’s coveted record deal breaks down, the hive is stirred into a frenzy and Russell is about to test the loyalty of his flock in the most horrifying way.

Inspired by the events of Spahn Ranch and Charles Manson, The Girls, by Emma Cline, is an intense, “can’t-put-it-down” wander through the mind of a 14 year old girl ripe for the picking by Charles Manson and his followers. Anyone who has ever been a teenage girl struggling to find her identity and place in the world will be able to relate to this haunting account that will leave you stunned and without words, thinking deep into the night about what you just read.

Disclaimer: If you do not think you might want to read about a drug and violence driven cult that predates on teenage girls, I’d leave The Girls, by Emma Cline, alone. If you don’t mind a little grit, definitely find out for yourself what it’s all about.

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