The Girls, by Emma Cline

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.

Don’t Try to Find Me by Holly Brown

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When a 14-year-old girl disappears, her mother’s worst nightmare is realized. Rachel’s daughter, Marley, left her phone and computer sitting at home, but packed a backpack full of clothing and left a note for her mother which read “Don’t Try to Find Me”. At first, Rachel believes her daughter must have been kidnapped by someone who made her write the note, but the evidence piles high and she is forced to accept that her sweet, average, non-rebellious daughter is a runaway.

Marley is tired of being ignored, tired of being cast aside, tired of being unremarkable to everyone. She wants to start fresh, away from her neurotic mother, her domineering and detached father, her psychiatrist who rejected her when she asked for help, her cruel, self absorbed friends…She wants to be with someone who truly appreciates her. And she thinks she may have found that. Online.

Take a journey through the lives of a family torn apart by social media in every way…This novel is what I would call “Suspense” but it also has a lot of emotional depth as you get deeper and deeper into the very personal thoughts of very ordinary people, when things get very out-of-the-ordinary without any warning whatsoever. I would say that readers of Emily Arsenault and other similar novelists will enjoy Don’t Try to Find Me, by Holly Brown.

Find out if Marley will ever come home…Will she even have an option?