So begins Emma Cline’s recently released debut novel. As eerie as it is personal, as unsettling as it is relatable, The Girls tells the story of a woman, Evie, a 60-something who is temporarily staying in the home of an acquaintance. In the middle of the night, intruders, who turn out to be the son and son’s girlfriend of the homeowner, interrupt Evie’s sleep. Through their questions, Evie recalls the dark memories knocking at the door of her mind. The memories are harrowing, prompting questions that she does not want to answer: who she is, what she wants, and finally, if she ever found what she was looking for.
During a summer in the late 1960s, Evie is fourteen, clinging to her friendships, pining over boys. Her best friend, Connie, provides a seemingly safe place amidst the turmoil of Evie’s parents’ divorce and the jarring evolution of her mother from a domestic homebody to a serial dater, hardly aware of her daughter’s whereabouts, much less her feelings. Evie is stammering and searching; she is looking for love, any kind at all. Then, one day, she sees the girls, the ones who prompted her with their laughter and kept her gaze with their mystery.
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