WARNING: SPOILER ALERT!
As I sat there, curled up with this novel, I felt as helpless as Evie being mesmerized by Suzanne. Starting this 355-page book, the only knowledge I had of this was that it was a fiction, rising in popularity, about a cult-type group taking place in the late 1960’s.
When I first started reading the book it took me a while to get used the writing style and how the book was set up, overall.
It goes back and forth from the late 1960’s, when Evie was 14, to when she’s middle aged and living by herself.
Evie is a young 14-year old girl spending her summer at home, back from boarding school, with her newly single mom.
She has one best friend in this small town, with whom she spends most of the time with riding bikes, hanging out with boys and just trying to find some entertainment.
One of these summer days she goes to a fair and sees a group of girls stealing food from a garbage can and she instantly becomes aware of one of the girls (Suzanne) with her care free attitude and “free love” hippie-type look.
As the story goes on, Evie finds a way to befriend Suzanne and ends up going to where a group of the girls live called “The Ranch.”
She then finds out about Russell, a guy who basically runs the ranch and every girl looks up to him like he’s some type of a god.
When he walks out of his camper to the group each girl stops what they’re doing and waits for orders to please.
Evie is willing to do anything just to be close to Suzanne and follows right along with all the spellbound females.
The books goes on, and you really start to learn that Evie is more than just in love with Suzanne, but starts to become obsessive. Evie doesn’t have a great relationship with either of her parents and seems to be looking for someone to show her the attention she craves.
She’s always wondering what Suzanne is doing, what she thinks, where she is and how she can involve herself somehow. To the point where she’s willing to have sex with Russell and even (later on) to a guy named Mitch that promised Russell a record deal.
Evie acts out more and more at home and her mom decides it’s best for her to go away for two weeks and stay with her dad and his girlfriend.
During these two weeks Evie is always sitting around thinking about the ranch and what Suzanne is doing, hoping she didn’t forget about her.
Once she gets the chance she runaways and hitchhikes back to the ranch. Each ride she gets she rants and raves about how amazing this place is and the amazing way of life they live.
What she didn’t know is that while she was gone for those two weeks, things have gone downhill at the ranch because Russell never got that record deal.
Evie can feel a change when she gets there, the girls are skinnier, tired, on edge and just a mess. But she overlooks it all because she wants to be happy again she wants to be with Suzanne, and live with them from now on.
As the night goes on Evie realizes that all the girls are planning something with Russell, it seems like they’re just leaving her out. But she makes sure to follow them anyway as they all pile into a car.
Evie tries to feel a connection with Suzanne like she used to, so she reaches to hold her hand and Suzanne flips out, and ends up kicking her out of the car. We never really understand fully: Did she kick her out of the car because she knew what was going to happen? Or was it because she was done with her and didn’t want to be around her anymore?
Later on, we find out that Suzanne and some of the other girls were sent to Mitch’s house to get revenge for Russell, but what they found out is that he went away on a trip. But, they ended up stabbing the others to death anyway.
It seems that Evie struggles everyday with the fact that she would have been there when those murders happened, and she is always wondering if she would have joined Suzanne and her hatred for anyone against Russell, or would she have fled and never speak to them again.
As you can clearly see, this story is based off the famous Manson Family and the killings that happened as a result. Russell obviously representing Charles Manson, especially in the way that the girls see him has a god-type figure. Also, how he demands for sex and pleasure whenever he wants, and they all just follow.
Charles Manson was found guilty for conspiracy to commit the murders of seven people in a span of 5 weeks. One of those (famously) was actress Sharon Tate, who was eight months pregnant at the time as well.
If you have read this book, leave a comment and let me know if you think that Evie was in love with Suzanne, or obsessed with the idea of her! I would love to know!!