(Warning: this post discusses and refers to serious topics such as rape and child abuse. Please be careful my nerdlets.)
Title: The Girls
Adult Fiction*, Historical Fiction*, Crime*, LGBTQ+ (M/F, F/F)*✢
✢ The LGBTQ+ and F/F rep isn't great (neither is a lot of the M/F tbh,) see main review.
This book is about the Manson murders.
Yes, Cline's changed the names, and a couple of the fine details, but that's it.
Did Cline hope to not be sued by ex-members who weren't involved in the murders?
Hell, Manson was still alive when she wrote it, maybe she was just trying to stay off his radar.
(This is the reason I have most sympathy with! I wouldn't wanna be on his radar!)
I really did enjoy this book - it's the kind that screams out for weather like our current heatwave.
I literally read most of this lying out and sweltering on my bed; like, the whole summer of '69 thing is long, hot, lethargic days where reality and unreality are blurred.
So in this case it was the perfect match of book to weather.
Something about the grimness and the horror of what happened holds a gruesome sort of appeal.
But, my God, it's also a hot f**king mess, from an objective standpoint.
If you step away from its captivating spell for a moment, this is a book where several grown-a** adults have sex with a fourteen-year-old girl, and IT ISN'T VIEWED AS A PROBLEM.
Even Evie's adult POV, reflecting on that time, doesn't seem to view it as in any way wrong.
Her relationship with Suzanne is romanticised af, despite everything Suzanne does. (Which is a lot of bad things.)
There's also a sex scene which... NO! Just stop. It's NOT ok.
Let me make this clear: ADULTS HAVING SEX WITH UNDERAGE KIDS IS RAPE.
It's not OK. It's not romantic.
There's also something deeply harmful about the only F/F rep being romanticised abuse.
That really pi**es me the f**k off. Queer girl rep should not have to put up with b*llsh** like the relationship between Suzanne and Evie.
A secondary problem was the casual drug-taking and underage drinking.
Again, this is presented as perfectly normal, bordering on aspirational.
(Yes, yes, I know. It's California in the '60s. That doesn't make it right.)
So, despite the allure of the 60s California vibe, and the genuine readability and enjoyableness of this book, I can't recommend it.
If you still wanna give it a try though, I hope you enjoy it - just, be careful, ok?
The Manson Family's macabre spell is alive and well in this book.
Don't get too swept up in the romantic notions, and forget the harm that lurks beneath.
- child murder
- paedophilia/rape (adults having sex with underage kids)
- abuse (child, domestic: physical, emotional, sexual)
- neglect (child: emotional, physical)
- sex-trafficking (women and teenage girls being 'leant out' as 'favours')
- underage drinking
- breaking and entering/theft
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