The Girls: Other Readings

I can quite honestly say I have not read another book similar to this. I know. Everyone’s astonished. I went into this book with thoughts of feminism and empowerment for women. Some BA girls running around stirring up trouble for the patriarchy. Clearly, I should have read the back of the book. They do run around and stir up trouble, but at the same time they are all fawning and under the spell of Russel. (Right now I’m halfway through and will update this later.) However, I will muddle through with the hope that these girls grow their wings and fly out from beneath his thumb and lunatic rhetoric. So because this book is so far outside my normal wheelhouse I went to the internet to find a list (there are many). So without further adieu or rambling, straight from thedebrief.co.uk :

1. Girls On Fire

Written by Robyn Wasserman, Girls on Fire is about that special kind of bond that only teenage girls can have. Hannah (Dex) and Lacey are best friends and share, amongst other things, a mutual hatred of popular girl Nikki. As their friendship becomes more intense, so too do their feelings for Nikki.

Get Girls on Fire here.

2. Invincible Summer

Four friends, 20 years and a lifetime of stories.Following Benedict, Lucien, Sylvie and Benedict as they graduate from university, the book looks at what happens to the energy and dreams of the young as Real Life (boo) sets in. By Alice Adams.

Get Invincible Summer here.

3. Before The Fall

Everyone raves about this book. I got a couple of pages in and realised it all revolved around a plane crash. I have a phobia of flying and a long-distance flight coming up so sozza, I ditched it. Anyways – it’s about a guy who gets on a family’s private jet back from rich-people holiday destination Martha’s Vineyard. The plane crashes, he survives. What happens in the aftermath is the focus.

Get Before The Fall here.

4. The Muse

The next offering from the wonderful Jessie Burton, the lady behind 2014’s beautiful The Miniaturist. Set not in 1600’s Amsterdam but rather in 1960’s London, The Muse is about Odelle, a Trinidadian girl trying to make it in London. She gets a job at a gallery where the book diverges into the mysterious backstory of an exciting work of art.

Get The Muse here.

5. Sweetbitter

Written by Stephanie Danler, Sweetbitter is about Tess, a 22-year-old who moves to the big city to erm, do something. Whilst working at one of New York’s fanciest restaurants she finds herself caught up in a triangle of love affairs set against the city’s fast-paced restaurant scene.

Get Sweetbitter here

6. Maestra

The intelligent woman’s 50 Shades. Written by Oxbridge historian Lisa Hilton, it’s about a girl called Judith Rashleigh who worked in an auction house by day and a sleazy West End bar by night.  When she tries to steal money from a rich man, she ends up running for her life. Basically, imagine if Amy from Gone Girl replaced Anastasia from 50 Shades. Read our interview with Lisa here.

Get Maestra here.

7. The Glorious Heresies

This book won the Baileys’ Women’s Prize for Fiction this year so, it’s kind of a big deal. It’s about a group of people living in the criminal underworld of the Irish city of Cork in a post-economic crash world. There’s Ryan, the teenage drug dealer, Jimmy, one of the city’s most terrifying gangsters, Georgie a prostitute and Maureen, Jimmy’s mother. As the groups’ lives cross, things disintegrate further.

Get The Glorious Heresies here

8. Hot Milk

About a daughter Sofia and her mother Rosie who take a trip to Spain not on a lovely holiday but rather to a clinic to try to fix Rosie who is confined to a wheelchair. The women have a suffocating relationship and it intoxicates them both. By Deborah Levy.

Get Hot Milk here

9. Ctrl, Alt; Delete: How I Grew Up Online

It’s ex-Debrief and uber blogger Emma Gannon! Her book about growing up online (hello MSN Messenger) is funny, open, lovely and guaranteed to make you cringe as you recall yourself as a clueless teenager trying to operate as a grown-up.

Get Ctrl, Alt, Delete here.

10. Fates and Furies

One of the many books that was bequeathed the ‘Next Gone Girl’ honour by critics. Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies is, in a similar manner to Gone Girl, the story of a relationship told from both sides of a couple (Lotto and Mathilde Satterwhite – how’s that for a couple of names?). It’s brutal. And beautiful.

Get Fates and Furies here.

 

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The Girls Discussion Questions

Straight from PRH (Penguin Random House for those who aren’t perpetually surrounded by the merch, name, and warehouse personnel.) here are some discussion questions to think about while reading (or after, seeing as how we are to be done the end of the month. Ackkkk!)  Please feel free to include moments you thought of in the comments below!

1. The Girls takes place in the summer of 1969. When Evie explains the era to Sasha, she says “It was a different time … Everyone ran around” (144). Do you think that what happened to Evie could have only happened in the 1960s? Or is her story a timeless story? How might her story be different, if it happened today?

2. One of the central relationships in The Girls is between Evie and Suzanne. What did you make of their connection? The first time they meet, Suzanne is hesitant to let Evie come along (94-95). Does she sense something about Evie from the very beginning? What might it be?

3. Evie describes the “constant project of our girl selves” and the specific attentions that project requires—the make-up, the grooming rituals. Did you see a parallel in Evie’s mother’s behavior? What are the similarities and differences between Evie’s “constant project” and her mother’s new search for “an aim, a plan”?

4. In looking back at the time before her parents got divorced, Evie describes “the freedom of being so young that no one expected anything from me” (78). Do you think that freedom still exists when she is a teenager—or has it already disappeared? Why might that sense of freedom start to vanish, as she gets older?

5. Evie delineates the difference between the attention girls can get from boys, and the attention they can get from other girls: “Girls are the only ones who can really give each other close attention, the kind we equate with being loved” (34). What do you make of this? Is something all of the girls in this story are aware of, consciously or unconsciously? Do you think it holds true forever, or does it change as girls grow older?

6. At the same time, though, Evie says that she “didn’t really believe friendship could be an end in itself, not just the background fuzz to the dramatics of boys loving you or not loving you” (49). How does this notion change and evolve as the story goes on? Do you consider Evie’s relationship with Suzanne to be a friendship, or something different?

7. Evie is constantly sizing up other girls and women, measuring their beauty and assessing them “with brutal and emotionless judgment” (34). But Suzanne, she decides, “wasn’t beautiful … It was something else” (68). How does this complicate her understanding of, or attraction to, Suzanne? Is beauty something that is valued by Russell, Suzanne and others, in the world of the ranch?

8. What did you make of Evie’s dynamic with Sasha? What similarities to—and differences from—her teenage self might Evie see in Sasha? Why do you think Evie tells Sasha so much about her past?

9. Why do you think Evie decides to mess with Teddy Dutton, when she brings his dog back to his house? Does she have a newfound feeling of power, after spending time at the ranch? Do you think that interaction with Teddy paves the way for her and the girls’ later intrusion into the Dutton house?

10. Were you surprised by the character of Tamar, and her relationship with Evie? How does Tamar differ from the other girls and women in the story—from Suzanne, from Connie, from Evie’s mother?

11. Looking back, Evie questions whether she might have known what Suzanne and the others were planning, and whether she would have participated: “Maybe I would have done something, too. Maybe it would have been easy” (321). Do you think Evie would have gone through with it, if she had stayed in the car? Why, or why not?

12. At the end, Evie describes Suzanne letting her go as “a gift” (351), allowing Evie to have the normal life that Suzanne herself could not. But she reflects that it might have been easier to be punished and redeemed, as Suzanne was. What did you make of Evie’s still-conflicted feelings about that chapter in her life? Would it ever be possible for someone in Evie’s situation to make peace with the past? If so, what do you think prevents her from doing so?