The Girls


The Girls Fiction

4 out of 5 stars

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Product Description

Mesmerized by a band of girls in the park she perceives as enjoying a life of free and careless abandon, 1960s teen Evie Boyd becomes obsessed with gaining acceptance into their circle, only to find herself drawn into a cult and seduced by its charismatic leader. Reading-group guide available. A first novel.

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4 out of 5

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  • A Slap in the Face

    4 out of 5

    Written by , Posted on at 6:47:24 PM

    On the surface, this is a harrowing story of a girl’s induction into a cult-like commune, led by a charismatic leader called Russell. It’s the usual set-up: a powerful man riding herd over a bunch of callow youths (most of them underaged or barely legal girls), rampant sex, drug abuse, neglected children, a life lived on the fringe of society. However, this band of fools found themselves committing murder at the behest of their leader…and one girl agonizes about how it all went wrong so quickly. But it wasn’t so quick. Evie Boyd is one of those girls and her story is about the various females swirling around her, in and out of Russell’s fetid-smelling, shabby little world. The novel depicts female solidarity, how girls can make and lose friends in the space of a summer, how an adolescent finds herself estranged from her mother and making excuses for the feral girl she’s fallen in love with. But most of all it’s about the fragile nature of women’s characters as they float adrift in a man’s world. In elliptical metaphors and phrases, we learn that Evie and many of the lost girls couldn’t find their true selves because they all ravenously desired a man’s appreciation. All the girls sought Russell’s approval and Russell knew how to twist that desire to his liking. He had learned very early to spot those miserable adolescents yearning for an uncertain “more” in their lives and mercilessly spun a web to draw them close to him. The book brutally assesses this sad need many a young American girl of a certain age may feel and the hoops we jump through to make boys like us, notice us, keep us within their sphere. Evie relives this awful period in her life as she watches another girl, Sasha, after she betrays Evie and herself in a pathetic attempt to keep her boyfriend Julian focused on her. She knows, without seeing it, how Julian and his male buddy Zav will ride together, mumbling to one another about nothing in particular, while Sasha will make one futile attempt after another to insert herself in their conversation. The novel aches with sadness, haunted by Evie’s bad mistakes, her justifications of Suzanne and her own behaviors and her attempts to forge an identity even as she falls back into awful habits of seeking outside validation. In spite of the grubbiness of Russell’s extended female circle, Evie does learn to assess the world around her in general and the male gaze in particular. But she knows Suzanne will haunt her into the distant future…as she haunts the reader even after the last page is turned.