Thursday, July 14, 2016
I read Helter Skelter last year and it was a revelation. I didn't really know the Charles Manson story and this educated me on that. But it also was a revelation in terms of how much this real life case has influenced the entire crime and legal genres. Additionally, I found myself fascinated by the politics of the case especially in relation to Manson's girls and their autonomy and violence.
I started craving a fictional exploration, something that didn't have to be concerned with facts, but go deeper into the minds of the girls. There has been some recent Manson fiction on TV..Aquarius (couldn't get through the first episode; seems to be more about boys) a Lifetime movie that was generally awful, and now this, The Girls. The title is so promising, I was very much looking forward to this book.
And...it's a great book, don't get me wrong. It's interesting. It's beautifully written, there are some gorgeous lines I wished I could stop rewind (yes I did audio) and write down. And it's definitely about girls, about obsession, about growing up. But it was still not the book I WANTED. That doesn't mean it was a bad book.
It also falls quite shy about really being about Manson. The similarities are more along the lines of a small cult centered around a charismatic man that brutally kills a family. Bits and pieces are lifted....like the relationship between a famous musician and the cult leader and the way they get found out.
But really it doesn't matter, because the book is more about Evie who by chance meets Suzanne and falls more or less in love (obsession with her) Suzanne is dedicated the leader of the cult and so Evie starts hanging out with them, but it's always very clear that it's ALL for Suzanne. The book is a lot about the expectation for love that is placed on girls by society and the fact that most girls will never have enough of the kind of love they think they need. It's about sexual awakening and longing and defining moments.
Does The Girls help us understand why a bunch of girls killed and took pleasure in it? I don't think so. There is one brief mention of where it comes from...THE ANGER, but the book is really more about Evie's longing for Suzanne and longing for love. Even so, watching her become entangled with The Ranch is interesting to read about and I was never bored. I just personally wished for a more Gillian Flynn take on this story, I think, one that unflinchingly depicted the horrors while simultaenously communicating the appeal of life with Manson.
I listened to the audio, which was adequate, though the narrator (Cady McClain) sometimes seemed to pause in the wrong places and emphasize the wrong things.
Posted by Amy at 8:22 PM
The Girls by Emma Cline