Author: Emma Cline
Rated C for a good ol’ fashioned California cult amid the vulnerable teen years with a sheer veil of solidarity and liberation.
I looked up because of the laughter, and kept looking because of the girls.
In Northern California, at the end of the 60s, the summer was hot and Evie Boyd was lost. Her parents divorced, her best friend ditched her, and in the fall, she’s to be shipped off to boarding school. But then she meets Suzanne and gets caught up in her thrall of freedom and love.
Following her up to a ranch that is rundown, she finds a beauty that charges her a new feeling of belonging. As she allows herself to fall deeper and deeper in with Suzanne and the others, her obsession becoming all that she can see as sinks deeper into this life and moves farther away from her already timid mother, she doesn’t realize just how close she comes to unfathomable violence steered by evil.
So, I’m going to put up a warning really quick that the swearing is amped up a few notches in this review. If you aren’t okay with that, I understand. Love you all, book nerds!
This book garnered my attention on a very real level. It’s not my typical read, but what can I say? I enjoy mixing it up. This book really shook me up. More than ever, women are speaking up about everything. What we want, what we don’t want, and the fact that we are tired of being backed into a corner, because damn it, it’s not our fucking fault and we’ll no longer be guilted and falsely accused that it is and then be told we’re just emotional as if it’s a fucking disease. No, we’re just expressive, confrontational creatures unafraid of taking down those that dare to come at us. But the dark twisted reality of it all, is that the shit fucking happens, and this book was a dark fucking ride into it and my stomach churned into concrete.
An era of love and peace tainted by a dark ring of serious darkness is exactly how I’d pin this. That is the 60s verging into the 70s. Amid that, the first thing that came to my brain and triggered like an electrical current to the brain was Charles Manson. And maybe I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid and don’t know it, but I am fascinated by cults. To make it clearer than crystal, I DO NOT WANT TO JOIN ONE. I’ve always been curious about how one’s mind becomes enraptured and the person becomes sucked into it. It’s insane and impressive on a very disturbing level. You’d swear there was a level of dark magic involved. Legit though, the way a person can be pulled into something like that is crazy and getting that experience up close with Evie, who’s at an age of extreme impressionability already, was invigorating for me. Invigorating and gut-twisting.
The term “suffering” is light in regard to Evie in her fourteenth summer. The years of teen-hood is agonizing enough because you’re not only struggling to get others to understand your wild emotions but you’re competing with your own sexual awakening. The vulnerability and the manipulation of it all throughout were explosive and heartbreaking. Cline truly approached this without any thought to a person’s comfort. The attack on the parts of innocence really latched on like a deadly leech slowly draining it away.
This is such a loud shout-out to women everywhere and a deep look at the barriers blocking women and the unlikely ones breaking them down, not all of which are solely sexualized, but socialized. Unnerving and groundbreaking that surely left me stunned. A discovery of solidarity at a vulnerable time in one’s life. Finding liberation and seizing it with a fuck you though it dances on that dangerous line. Truly eye-opening. Incredible and memorable writing that I won’t forget.
Powerful and earth-shattering. Not just a story about a young girl’s dangerous summer vacation as an empty vagrant searching for a place where she’s wanted. It’s a dark journey, a fight, for identity. A desperation to figure out how to live in a world that crushes you with an invisible weight that automatically exists because you’re a woman. Revolting, but a wake-up call that’ll change you by the end.
“Part of me did feel all right, or I was confusing familiarity with happiness.” (p. 31)
“That was part of being a girl—you were resigned to whatever feedback you get. If you got mad, you were crazy and if you didn’t react, you were a bitch. The only thing you could do was smile from the corner they’d backed you into. Implicate yourself in the joke even if the joke was always on you.” (P. 55-56)
“You wanted things and you couldn’t help it, because there was only your life, only yourself to wake up with, and how could you ever tell yourself what you wanted was wrong?” (p. 278)
More to come soon…
P.S. Song today? High By Tthe Beach by Lana Del Rey.
Thoughts? Let’s chat in the comments below!