Review: The Girls by Emma Cline

Title: The Girls
Author: Emma Cline
Pages: 368
Genre: Fiction, Literary Fiction
Source: Free ARC from Random House

Rating: A

Note: As stated under the Source (above), I received this book for free from Random House via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review (and trust me, honest is always what you’ll get).

Review: Haunting. This is the kind of book that creeps inside of you and lives in your bones. It is dark and murky and all too disturbing because of the truth that it tells, the reflection of humanity, of ourselves, that we’d rather not see. After finishing it last night, I struggled to go to sleep, and this morning, I still can’t shake it, this cloud of unease, that weird gnawing at the pit of my stomach, the alarm that says something is off.

It isn’t that the book is especially gory or violent. It isn’t. It isn’t that it’s wrought with blatant evil either. It isn’t. In fact, it is quite the opposite. It’s the idea – the truth really – that many of us, maybe even most of us, regardless of age or background, are capable of the unthinkable given the right circumstances. That we can get sucked up into something, like the eye of a tornado, without realizing what is happening at the time, and lose control, at some point moving forward so quickly and blindly that, at the end of it all, we are left in the midst of the destruction and wondering…how did this happen? Did I really do this? Or, if you’re Evie, and are very, very lucky, the tornado spits you out before you’ve done any real harm, and you are instead left wondering, what would you have done if you hadn’t been tossed aside?

Ultimately, the question is, what are we truly capable of? We all like to think that we are good people. We watch the horrors that happen on the news and we tell ourselves that we would never do that, that we would have seen the signs, that we would never get sucked up in that, that we don’t understand, and since we don’t, evil is the only explanation for the bad things, and stupidity and weakness are the reason the victims found themselves in those circumstances. But as The Girls reminds us, the truth isn’t that simple.

As human beings, we all want. We want love and attention and warmth and acceptance, to be a part of something, to matter, to be seen. And those wants leave us vulnerable. What if the wrong person (or people) gives us what we want at a time when we most desperately need a void filled? How easily could we be swept up in the wave of their influence? At what point would our vision of ourselves, or what we wanted our self to look like, become so caught up in them that we could no longer see a difference? What would we do for them? How easy would it be to make bad decisions, to lose ourselves to the will of the many and find ourselves doing unimaginable things?

We like to think that we are impervious, that we are strong, that we could never do what they did. But if you read this book, you might find yourself wondering if you are really all that different from them. You just might realize that most of the horrors you see on the news are committed by normal people who found themselves in abnormal circumstances, who lost their way…and weren’t lucky enough to be spit out by the storm before the damage was done. In Evie, you just might see a reflection of yourself, and if that doesn’t shake you up, I don’t know what will.

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