Published by Random House on June 14th 2016
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“Poor Sascha. Poor Girls. The world fastens them on the promise of love. How badly they need it, and how little most of them will ever get of it.”
Evie Boyd is a middle aged woman looking back on her life, specifically when she was a 14 year old girl living in Northern California during the violent end of the 1960s. While at a friend’s home, one night, she meets a young girl, Sascha and her boyfriend. She sees something in the girl that reminds her of her 14 year old self. The girl is clearly underage with a boyfriend in his twenties. She views their relationship as being exploitative. Seeing (and hearing) the couple’s relationship, causes Evie to take a stroll down memory lane.
Evie was 14 years old when she first saw the girls in the part. She was drawn to them. They seemed so carefree, so confident, so beguiling. They are everything that she feels she is not. Her parents are divorced and she is living with her Mother. Her Father has moved in with his girlfriend. She had a close friend but they have drifted apart and Evie feels lost, neglected, alone, bored, and not connected to anything or anyone.
But then she feels a connection with the one girls (Suzanne)from the park. She is soon invited to their ranch where she will meet the group’s Charismatic leader, Russel. Russel is an expert at getting people to do what he wants. He knows how to read and work people. He makes Evie feel special. She feels like she is part of something – something bigger than herself. Although the ranch is run down and in need of repair, Evie is intrigued by it.
But Evie’s main connection to the cult is to Suzanne. Evie is willing to do anything to be in Suzanne’s good graces. During her time at the ranch, Evie feels acceptance, a sense of belonging and community. She begins to like and accept their communal way of life but does return to her Mother’s home periodically to steal money and to put in “face” time. Even though, Evie is living at the ranch, is she truly a member? Have they accepted her completely?
This book will remind the reader of the Charles Manson murders.
I waited to get this book for a long time from the library. I was #464. It finally became available. I didn’t even leave the library with it. I sat down at a table and read the entire book in one setting. It was so good! I love when I read debut books that are this good. This book is captivating and intriguing. I lLOVE when a book lives up to it’s hype. I know it is getting mixed reviews. Yes, there are sexual situations, yes there are murders. Is anything really graphic? For me no, for other readers perhaps. I think it all depends on the reader.
The writing is beautiful. The story is captivating. I think most readers can relate to being a teenager wanting to fit in, desiring attention and acceptance. This is really what Evie is looking for that summer. She is feeling lost and alone. Enter cult – stage left. She feels needed, she is permitted to help out, she is open to new experiences. This book is basically a disturbing coming of age story.