How’d a nice girl like you wind up in the Manson Family? | Book review: The Girls – Emma Cline

You wait forever for a book about the girls of the Manson Family to arrive and then two come along at once. This month sees the publication of both Emma Cline’s The Girls and Alison Umminger’s My Favourite Manson Girl. And, if we’re counting the TV series Aquarius, as well as Manson’s Lost Girls, the recent Lifetime movie (yes, really), Susan Atkins et al have, like, omg never been hotter.

The Girls by Emma ClineLet’s save the “ethics of true crime” discussion for another time (hey, you listened to Serial, too, right?). There’s obviously something that still resonates about this legend of a magnetic man; one who’s capable of building a cadre of (mostly female) misfits willing to murder for him. The fact that attention has mostly shifted from Manson to his “girls” speaks to both the post-Gone-Girl wave of female-driven crime novels and also to society’s persistent astonishment whenever a woman does anything except what she’s supposed to. When we see her mugshot, we all still wonder, “How’d a nice girl like you end up there?”

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