The Girls

The Girls

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

California. The summer of 1969. In the dying days of a floundering counter-culture a young girl is unwittingly caught up in unthinkable violence, and a decision made at this moment, on the cusp of adulthood, will shape her life….

Evie Boyd is desperate to be noticed. In the summer of 1969, empty days stretch out under the California sun. The smell of honeysuckle thickens the air and the sidewalks radiate heat.

Until she sees them. The snatch of cold laughter. Hair, long and uncombed. Dirty dresses skimming the tops of thighs. Cheap rings like a second set of knuckles. The girls.

And at the centre, Russell. Russell and the ranch, down a long dirt track and deep in the hills. Incense and clumsily strummed chords. Rumours of sex, frenzied gatherings, teen runaways.

Was there a warning, a sign of things to come? Or is Evie already too enthralled by the girls to see that her life is about to be changed forever?

Thoughts:

I had heard SO much about The Girls that I was somewhat apprehensive to pick it up.I didn’t know much about this book before I read it. I just kept seeing it all over the place. I have since learnt that this book is based on the Manson murders in 1969. I thought that I would enjoy it, but I’m always worried when a book is discussed so much. I worry it’s too hyped and my expectations will be too high. Therefore, I left it a little while. I finally got around to reading The Girls about a week ago. I’m glad I read it, but I don’t think it’s a book that I’d re-read, as beautifully written as it is.

The Girls centres around a girl named Evie who is desperate to be noticed by her peers. Evie notices the girls, some girls who have long uncombed hair and dirty dresses. They immediately intrigue Evie. The story is packed full of sex, drugs and teenage runaways but it’s also much darker than that. Russell is mainly at the edge of the story. It is Suzanne, the leader of the girls, who captivates the main protagonist, Evie. Evie finds Suzanne alluring and is easily led to Russell’s ranch. At the ranch, Evie can become much more grown up and seek revenge against her mother who isn’t letting Evie be herself.

I liked how the narration was split between fourteen year old Evie and middle aged Evie looking back on her life. I wish there had been more about middle aged Evie as I was left with quite a few ‘What If’ questions. Perhaps this was the author’s intention. I felt like the narrations weren’t as connected as they could’ve been, which was a shame.

I found The Girls to be a disturbing read. It unsettled me at times. Emma Cline’s writing really is brilliant. She sets the scene wonderfully and creates the perfect atmosphere for the story. The Girls is an engaging read which kept me turning the pages right from the start.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

Definitely an interesting one! Some darker content, so be aware of that!

Talking About ‘The Girls’ with Bibliobeth

The Girls

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Synopsis:

You live on a picturesque communal garden square, an oasis in urban London where your children run free, in and out of other people’s houses.

You’ve known your neighbours for years and you trust them. Implicitly.

You think your children are safe.

But are they really?

Midsummer night: a thirteen-year-old girl is found unconscious in a dark corner of the garden square. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?

Utterly believable characters, a gripping story and a dark secret buried at its core: this is Lisa Jewell at her heart-stopping best.

CHRISSI: Did you have any preconceptions about this author before starting this book?

BETH: Hmm, I don’t think I had any preconceptions but I definitely had expectations. Lisa Jewell is a favourite author of one of my favourite bloggers, Cleopatra Loves Books and I always meant to read one of her books. I was super glad when Richard and Judy picked it as one of their books for Summer 2016 as you know we follow this list religiously and I knew I was going to finally get the opportunity to read her! Now that I have, I can see what Cleo is talking about and I’m going to make it my mission to read her back catalogue… er… eventually!

BETH: How do you think the absence of Pip and Grace’s father affects them in the novel? Does this have any bearings on what happened?

CHRISSI: What an interesting question! I do think that the absence of Pip and Grace’s father affects them in the novel, in very different ways. I feel like they did miss their father but it manifested in different ways. Grace, I believe, was more angry with her father whereas Pip missed him dearly. Her letters to him were adorable and so touching. I’m not so sure about it having any bearings on what happens but it would be interesting, if there was a father figure around, whether certain events would have played out in the same way.

CHRISSI: What do you think the location of the novel in a residential square adds to the novel?

BETH: I think it gives the story as a whole a lot more atmosphere and tension. The characters that we meet all live in very close proximity to each other and the huge gardens that surround the houses are communal. It can be a bit cliquey, and the neighbours that don’t join in with the activities are viewed with a bit of suspicion. It also offers a lot of opportunities for situations to escalate, gossip to spread and tension to rise.

BETH: This is a story about secrets – is it ever better to keep a secret than to share?

CHRISSI:  Ooh, this is a particularly tricky question, especially because of the job I’m in.  As a teacher working with young children we are always taught to be very careful around ‘secrets’ for child protection issues. Unfortunately, when some bad things happen to children they are asked to keep it secret otherwise there will be trouble. It’s an awkward one. When I’ve discussed the topic of secrets with my class, I always say that there are secrets that can be fun e.g. a surprise party, but some secrets can be harmful. So in answer to the question, no- it’s not ever better to keep a secret than to share. It really depends on circumstances. Secrets can hurt people but they can also protect people. Argh. Such a tricky one.

CHRISSI: Discuss the family relationships in this story.

BETH: There are quite a lot of characters to come to grips with in this novel but personally, that never overwhelmed me as the characters were written so well that I felt I knew each one of them individually which helped me connect to both them and the story. I loved the differing dynamics between the families – between parents and children, between the siblings and how the children interacted with each other across the various families. We got a wide range of personality types, parenting styles and plot twists to keep the reader turning the pages. My favourite relationship had to be Claire with her children Pip and Grace and also their absent father whose absence is a story all of its own!

BETH Did you have a favourite character in this novel and why?

CHRISSI: I really liked Pip. I found her incredibly endearing and I thought her notes to her absent father were very endearing!

CHRISSI: Did you find this book predictable in any way?

BETH: No, not really and I’m so glad! I do feel a bit annoyed every time I can predict where a story is going and I love to be surprised and shocked as a reader. I thought I had everything figured out in terms of what happened but I certainly didn’t even though the author leaves tiny little breadcrumb clues through the narrative. The ending also was interesting in that it didn’t finish completely how I wanted but in that way it made it better if that makes any sense?

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: Yes! I really enjoyed Lisa Jewell’s writing and I can totally see why Cleo is such a fan. 🙂

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!
CHRISSI: Of course!