The Girls

The Girls

A Novel

Book - 2016
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged--a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence.
Publisher: New York : Random House, 2016
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780812998603
Characteristics: 355 p. ; 22 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Dec 20, 2019

There have been lots of mixed feelings about this book and I can understand why, but I really liked it. We have all wondered how someone can get themselves tangled up in a cult. Well here is a story about how that might happen. I thought it was well worth reading.

Oct 16, 2019

Surprisingly sharp portrayal of the psyche of a 15-year-old girl. Though set 50 years ago in a particular place and cultural moment, the novel's representation of Evie's longing to be seen and loved, and her attempts to gain those things by fitting herself into the sexist and sometimes degrading cultural expectations for girls that she avidly studies, is very relevant to the present day. I thought the novel made a plausible case for how a normal girl could be drawn into a Manson family cult-type situation. Having Evie idolize Suzanne, one of the other acolytes, rather than Russell himself was an interesting approach to this sort of story.

Sep 05, 2019

I liked this book enough. The setting and her writing draw you in. I liked her broken sentences and descriptions that were short and poignant, not too sweepingly drawn out. She has a unique way of having Evie observe something plain in an unusual, sharp and relatable phrase- that may be my favorite part. I like how she ruminates on adolescence and the “physiological violence” of being a young girl.

Jul 14, 2019

What a headache. The first several pages showed promise, but a few paragraphs doth not make a book. This was the publishing phenom of 2016: a 20-something unknown received a multi-million dollar advance/deal for this first novel. So, a young literary lion brandishing a shiny new MFA and in love with words that she doesn't string together with much talent, gives us this fictionalized account of the Manson Family and their infamous murders. Why Cline chose to tell us this story from the POV of the criminally boring Evie is beyond me. Evie - pretty, privileged, whiny (But my parents are DIVORCED!), without an interesting pore on her body. And she's only very briefly involved with the Family and not part of the awful events. Also, told in flashback by an adult Evie who somehow manages to be even more tiresome than teenage Evie. I was neither expecting nor wanting some true crime type of story, but if you're going to take on this iconic tragic and vicious event in recent American history, then DO something with it. Instead, this is a ponderous, awfully, and laughably overwritten story of a few weeks in the life of a typical angsty adolescent. The hippie followers of the Charles Manson character are cardboard cutouts with no believable character development.

Two in a row - this and Sweetbitter - where I fall for hype and read highly lauded entries by young writers who are for sure going to be the "next big thing" in the literary world. And both were huge duds for me. Damn.

May 17, 2019

I was completely engrossed by this book. Cline did a masterful job of capturing the desperate, frantic experience of girlhood. It is incredible the way she was able to humanize the mythic "Manson Girls" without forgiving them.

Dec 02, 2017

Some parts of the story shocked me. Of course, I didn't grow up during this time, so I could just be a bit ignorant, seeing as this era was considered "the Sexual Revolution."

I get that Cline was intending for this to be more of a character study, having done research on other cults, and letting the readers get an understanding as to why Evie joined the group; and I think that's exactly why this book has been so popular. The Manson Family has been such an intriguing subject over the years, and this novel provides a new, albiet fictitious, take on it.

But what about the other girls? Do we get a good understanding as to why Suzanne, Donna, Helen and Roo are there...? Not really, no. I wonder how this would have turned out if it was from the perspective of Suzanne instead? Evie can come and go to the ranch whenever she pleases, while everyone else practically lives there. Evie isn't enamored with the leader, Russell, but with Suzanne (an interesting twist, might I add). There's also the fact that Evie isn't present when the murders eventually happen, which is also a tad disappointing, since I was expecting her to be the one who simply stood outside the house and listened to the horrifying screams from within, like what happened with Linda Kasabian in real-life. But, again, I knew that that aspect was meant to be kept more in the background.

Overall, I liked it, but wouldn't consider it as amazing as it's been made out to be. I would also warn that it's definitely not an all-round pleasant read.

stewaroby Jun 02, 2017

This had good reviews but I so would not have finished it if I hadn't been trapped on a long-haul flight with a terrible selection of movies. Really two stars is praising it.

RPinnix May 22, 2017

y e sbook

May 15, 2017

I'd heard good things regarding this book, but honestly, I couldn't really find anything that interesting or unique about it. A girl who is feeling ugly and confused, spends a lot of time and thought trying to figure out how to not feel ugly or confused. Meh. Anyways, she ends up hanging with 'the girls' of some sort of Manson clan group, and I just didn't care enough about her or her insights or her lack of insights to finish the thing.

May 13, 2017

Evie Boyd was a young teenager, feeling uncool and unpopular. She happened to see a group of desperately cool girls in the park one day and sort of fell in love with the ringleader. They were unkempt but confident and free, everything she wasn't and wanted to be. She began violating her sense of right and wrong -- by stealing money from her mother and giving it to them -- in an attempt to belong with them. They were fine with that, and even honored her by making a gift of her to the man who headed their little traveling commune. She eventually moved in with them and adopted their lifestyle.

The story is ripped from the headlines of the Manson murder story. When the group killed a family Evie didn't happen to be there; her absence during the murders wasn't planned, it was mere chance. Now, as a middle aged woman, she wonders what she would have done if the circumstances had been different. In a chance encounter with an equally uncool teenage girl, she sees in her the desperate drive to belong; the willingness of the girl to violate her sense of right and wrong -- in this case to offer herself sexually to her boyfriend's friend -- in order to be accepted.

View All Comments


Add a Summary
ArapahoeSusanW Oct 10, 2016

Fictional Manson family styled cult in the late 60's. Enthralling and fast paced, I read it in under a week. Once you pick this one up, it's difficult to tear yourself away!

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at PPL

To Top