Do you remember when you were a teenager and felt like no one understood you, and to fit in you accidentally joined a cult? No?
Evie a fourteen year old who isn’t happy with her home life and her only friend stops hanging out with her. Lonely and looking for someone to understand her, Evie sees a girl in the park, Suzanne, and becomes entranced with her. Evie encounters her again, where Suzanne then introduces Evie to the ranch. From then on, Evie’s life changes. Suzanne is this otherworldly mystical person in Evie's eyes and she becomes obsessed with her. Suzanne introduces Evie to Russell, the enigmatic leader of the ranch. Evie begins to spend more and more time there. Evie's need to belong and love for Suzanne outweighs her undeniable feeling of unease and fear of the ranch.
Cline writes a story about those awkward teenage years when you are naive, vulnerable, and just figuring things out and shows how that vulnerability leads Evie to be mesmerized by a group that made her feel valued and took advantage of her age and susceptibility. The choices Evie makes are questionable, but understandable.
Emma Cline is a superb author who poignantly writes about an entire decade, setting up the reader in the 60's. I loved that the narration was self reflective and that Cline wrote about flawed characters and focused on their development. The story isn't fast and filled with climatic scenes but the buildup of this pervasive sense of impending doom makes the book hard to put down. The story is disturbing and hard to read at times but also fascinating, which leaves you wanting to read more but also wanting to stop.