Bottle Bitches Book Club: Discussing ‘The Girls’ by Emma Cline

We decided to read the New York Times best seller The Girls by Emma Cline for our first book club of the year, and, well, we had some opinions.


Mia: I have been obsessed with the podcast “My Favorite Murder” lately (who hasn’t?) and when I first heard about this book last summer – and the fact that it was based on Charles Manson’s infamous cult – I had to read it. I must say that even though I enjoyed it, I was a little disappointed overall. For a book about cults and murder, I was honestly hoping for a bit more murder.

Christianna: I was also hoping for a little more cult. And a little more drugs. For whatever reason, I expected it to be way more wild. It was almost not believable because it was too calm.

Mia: I agree that it was “too calm” – there was a lot of internal conflict, which is expected for a teenage protagonist, but it was a bit too introspective at times. That being said, I thought the language throughout was really what kept the book going, even if it was a bit flowery. Every word felt like it was chosen carefully.

4d4ede70-323f-0134-0cb1-0a0b9a139ea7Izzy: Agreed – it was really hard to get through parts of the book because it felt like the author was trying way too hard with her descriptions. And it was one of those books where the supporting characters were WAY more interesting than the main character. I’d totally read a book about Suzanne or the cult leader instead.

Mia: I would TOTALLY read a book – this one or otherwise! – from Suzanne’s perspective. Her backstory and what little we heard of it was far more interesting than Evie’s suburban life (though I suppose this character choice was for relatability).

Izzy: I think Evie’s story was a lot less compelling because she didn’t have that much to lose from being involved in the cult, and it was way too easy for her to go back to her normal life at home. And I must be getting too old to sympathize with teenage suburban angst – I enjoyed the parts of the book where she was older and trying to cope with adult life a lot more than the flashbacks.

Christianna: Evie reminded me of Bella from Twilight. She wasn’t really described at all except for being very average and self-conscious (every girl ever) and I particularly hate books that prey on women’s insecurities like that. But I did like the ideas in the plot! If it was a little bloodier and Evie was a little more interesting I think I could be down.

Izzy: She totally reminded me of Bella from Twilight! I don’t know if I want the story to be bloodier but it could have delved more into the weird cult psychology. I saw this documentary on Netflix about a cult and it took you through the mindset of the members from when they first joined to when things started going south and it was really fascinating.

Christianna: I think a solid half of all of the points I ever make start with “I saw this documentary on Netflix…” but I totally agree that it could have focused on that a bit more. I’m really intrigued by it too! But it sorta reminded me of those groups of mean popular girls in middle school. And I’m assuming that a cult is a little more intense than that!

Mia: It did feel a little clique-y and immature in that way – especially the trope of the girl figuring out she’s a lesbian/exploring her sexuality because of the beautiful “Queen Bee.” I thought Russell was one of the few characters that we get to see in that crazy-cult psychological way, but it’s always a tad disappointing when a story that’s supposed to focus on girls and their relationships has the men be the most intriguing, fully-developed characters.

Christianna: As a gay, can I just say how annoying that is? That is definitely not how I discovered my queerness. More than that though, lemme say a few things about Russell. This motherfucker assaulted an entire group of young girls and it’s barely even spoken about in the book? I don’t remember anyone having ONE good conversation about rape or assault throughout the book. I’m sure it’s an awkward topic to write about, but it felt unnecessary and awkward. Rape is not a plot point.

Izzy: Yeah, I definitely feel like the sexual assault was really downplayed and almost romanticised? And I was just generally confused about how Evie was exploring her sexuality and how the threesome scene played out…

Mia: I also thought the assault scene(s) were almost depicted as “sexy” (ew). That being said, I think this is a welcome departure from your typical “new adult” fiction that is often more contemporary and has a less compelling plot. It tries something new by straddling the line between a young adult coming-of-age story and a gritty crime/cult novel.

Christianna: I disagree, but I think it’s probably tough to write a new adult fiction novel that pleases all 22-year old feminists, but I digress. I give it 3 out of 5 stars but 0 out of 5 Rosie the Riveters.

Mia: Yeah, there’s where I’d put it, too – a solid 3 out of 5. If you love YA and want something a bit different and more devious, you may like this.

Izzy: I think my 16 year old, suburban angst-self would have loved this book a lot more than I do now, so 3 out of 5 stars sounds about right.

Stay tuned for our February book club announcement soon!


Mia is an aspiring cat lady and obsessed with books, beauty, and pop culture. By day she works in publishing in New York City, and by night she can be found in bed, drinking Moscato and binge-watching YouTube videos.

Christianna is an adventurous, optimistic feminist who can hold her own in a few topics: politics, music, baking and books. At a party, you can find her consoling the hostess’s pets and sipping a gin and tonic.

Isabelle is an aspiring music industry executive who spends most of her paycheck on concert tickets and cold brew coffee. She currently resides in New York City, where she is studying music business and juggling more internships than is humanly possible. She also co-founded an a cappella group, Baruch Blue Notes, because she is a giant music nerd. Her friends all call her Izzy, and sometimes they call her “Virginia” for no apparent reason (it’s a long story).

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