by Emma Cline
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, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.
To be honest, I wish I could give a huge review for this book. But the thing is, when I like books, it’s hard to write pages of notes and details. Most of my notes are that I enjoyed this book, that I enjoyed the lyrical-ness of it. The story almost feels real and that you could look up these names and find them, along with the horrible story that makes them famous. Because the story is horrible, and yet written beautifully. A young girl, a cult, a murder, and how she’s tied into it all. This isn’t a book for the faint hearted, which I learned the first night which I had nightmare after nightmare about until I made myself pick up another book to read at night instead, because even when it didn’t speak of the horribleness to come, it did fill you with an anxious energy at knowing what was to come. Because in those first few pages, that author tells you exactly what happens, you just don’t know it until you read the end and you go back and re-read that section.
That was most likely the ONLY flaw I saw in this book. I didn’t understand the opening at all or what the author was trying to tell me. But I was horribly interested because I did have this unanswered question of what any of it meant. It had been well written, but I had no context at that point to understand it. Which can be a bit off putting to some people. In which I say – stick with it. It’ll make perfect sense and you’ll find the right rhythm of how the author pulls you through the timeline at first so you get an understanding just where this story is going.
A few trigger warnings – Murder, cults, sex with an underage person, drugs, abuse, cutting, abusive relationships, unhealthy relationships, and probably a lot more I’m drawing a blank on at the moment.
My one hope is that this doesn’t get looked at with rose coloured glasses. This is not a love story. In any shape or form. The main character falls for another, but it isn’t love. Not in healthy sense. It’s one part obsessive, one part harmful, all parts bad.
My Rating – 4 stars