The Girls by Emma Cline

Feels like: That summer you spent with your girlfriends, walking the streets at sunset without supervision or anywhere to go.

Song Pairing: “Bellyache” by Billie Eilish

“I waited to be told what was good about me. All that time I had spent readying myself, the articles that taught me life was really just a waiting room until someone noticed you- the boys had spent that time becoming themselves.”

If you read this book for 1. an exciting page turner about hot murder girls, or 2. an in-depth look into the off-kilter life of late 1970’s cult members, or 3. with a lackluster shrug and a “what’s with this Helter Skelter popularity lately, the Manson thing is overdone”, then you’ll entirely miss the point of this book. The Manson call-back (in this book, he embodies the character of “Russell”) is a wonderful backdrop to the more fully developed dreamworld of the feminine psyche.

This is an intimate detailing of the most private, most shameful, most beautiful, most engaging parts of growing up as a girl. A girl who feels special without reason, knows that somehow the entire world is revolving around her, and is imbued with the restless, frantic energy of needing to justify her own existence. It pauses and holds to the light like a dried, pressed flower the very moment she discovers that the world exists not for her but in spite of her; that happenings and extraneous coincidences are outside of her, that there is no spotlight on her every move, that there is no one waiting around to meet her, to make her feel significant, and that significance only comes through her own inner evolution. It is a moment which all girls have, a transitory, fluid progress from girlhood to womanhood, commonly marked by the tragic enterprise of failed expectations.

The novel presses play again after the realization, after the last page, when still we must recognize our own insignificance to a cruel and careless world. We can relate to Evie, participate in her need to feel alive in a world where being “seen”, really seen, is currency.

It’s just beautiful and perfect and I felt like someone was reading our collective diary, the one we all kept in our minds at fourteen. Narrating our life to make it fit our various environments. Read this book to experience a piece of the collective girlhood.

Quotes or more like Small Truths: 

“That was our mistake, I think. One of many mistakes. To believe that boys were acting with a logic that we could someday understand. To believe that their actions had any meaning beyond thoughtless impulse. We were like conspiracy theorists, seeing portent and intention in every detail, wishing desperately that we mattered enough to be the object of planning and speculation. But they were just boys. Silly and young and straightforward; they weren’t hiding anything.”

“Girls are the only ones who can really give each other close attention, the kind we equate with being loved. They noticed what we want noticed.”

“And now I was older, and the wishful props of future selves had lost their comforts. I might always feel some form of this, a depression that did not lift but grew compact and familiar, a space occupied like the sad limbo of hotel rooms.”

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