Becky’s Two Hundred and Seventeenth Book Review: “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins

“The Girl on The Train” by Paula Hawkins was such a good read. I cannot believe it took me so long to get around to picking it up. Once I did open the first pages I could not put the book down. The characters are intense and the storyline is such a forceful pace that you need to keep turning those pages. It was an addictive read, I wouldn’t suggest it to anyone trying to get work done.

In “The Girl on the Train” the story is told from a few different perspectives. The main character, Rachel, sits on the train and stares out the window daydreaming. She is not on her way to work, but just riding the train to keep up appearances. Her life has fallen to pieces and she is faking it the best that she can. She continues to ride the train, and while staring out the window, she makes up stories for the different people that she sees. She likes to watch the row of houses that she used to be a part of. We soon learn that Rachel is divorced and that her husband left her for another woman and that they now have a child together. So Rachel stares at the neighbors that she might have had if things had turned out differently between her and her husband.

It soon becomes clear that Rachel is not the most stable individual. She gets very upset when she realizes that the picture perfect family she has been watching is anything but. “What is wrong with her? Look at the life they have, look at how beautiful it is! I have never understood how people can blithely disregard the damage they do by following their hearts. Who was it said that following your heart is a good thing? It is pure egotism, a selfishness to conquer all. Hatred floods me. If I saw that woman now, if I saw Jess, I would spit in her face. I would scratch her eyes out.” (The Girl on the Train, pg 31). The hateful passion that Rachel feels is so extreme compared to her relationship (or lack there of) with those she is directing her anger towards. She doesn’t really know them, and they certainly do not know her, but she has forced herself into their lives in her own mind to the point where she feels such anger.

Another woman that is narrating “The Girl on the Train” is Megan. We learn bits and pieces about her but from the very beginning it is clear that she is not happy. “Hollowness: that I understand. I’m starting to believe that there isn’t anything you can do to fix it. That’s what I’ve taken from the therapy sessions: the holes in your life are permanent. You have to grow around them, like tree roots around concrete, you mold yourself through the gaps. All these things I know, but I don’t say them out loud, not now.” (The Girl on the Train, pg 94). Megan is the one that Rachel watches and imagines her life to be perfect. Anna, the woman that Rachel’s husband left her for, also narrates “The Girl on the Train” and she seems like a pretty terrible person. “I miss being a mistress. / I enjoyed it. I loved it, in fact. I never felt guilty. I pretended I did. I had to, with my married girlfriends, the ones who live in terror of the pert au pair or the pretty, funny girl in the office who can talk about football and spends half her life in the gym. I had to tell them that of course I felt terrible about it, of course I felt bad for his wife, I never meant for any of this to happen, we fell in love, what could we do?” (The Girl on the Train, pg 233).

I really enjoyed reading the book from different perspectives. I like when an author lets you inside the minds of various characters. It provides the reader a fuller experience and keeps them guessing at the same time. It’s a great technique that I see frequently in the modern novel.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I think that a large audience would enjoy this novel. It is a little twisted at times, so it isn’t necessarily a book for everyone. There are a lot of comparisons to Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” on reviews – which I understand. If you didn’t enjoy “Gone Girl” there is a fair chance that you wouldn’t enjoy “The Girl on the Train”. But I didn’t love “Gone Girl” and I couldn’t put “The Girl on the Train” down, it was such a page-turner. For me I found these characters to be overall more likeable, and therefore I was more interested in the book. I was pretty unhappy to find out that this is the only book Paula Hawkins has written so far. I’m hoping there will be more books to follow; I would definitely pick up more works by Paula Hawkins.

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