'The Girls' by Emma Cline
The enduring mystique of Manson's young female followers has never been as cleverly explored. In The Girls, debut novelist Emma Cline reimagines the summer of 1969 through the eyes of a young teenage girl, Evie Boyd. Though the Manson name is carefully evaded, Cline's characters take on parallels to Susan Atkins, Lydia Kasabian, Dennis Wilson and the cult leader himself. The murders are depicted down to the markings on the wall, but it's the lead up to the event that proves to be most interesting and emotionally fraught. Cline has finally humanized the Manson girls by putting a fictional distance between Manson's allure on young people and the sensationalized coverage after the fact. She inserts Evie into the Manson family narrative as a fly on the wall, from lounging on LSD at the filthy ranch to falling in love with Russell, the Manson stand-in, and his most loyal female devotees.