Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.
*May Contain Spoilers*
People watching often evolves into story. Made up names, careers, desires, beliefs, personalities. Then given enough time, enough dedication, they become something more. The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins, connects strangers, separated by tracks and timetables, through death and deceit.
Rachel is an alcoholic who struggles to want to change. She's been through the ringer: unfulfilled plans, cheating husband. The blame weighs heavily on her shoulders. And she takes it. Rachel takes the blackouts, the hangovers, the depression and somehow continues on. Readers will see her fail, again and again to take control of her ever-downward spiraling. As a character who is drunk more often than not, she not a very reliable narrator. She seems untrustworthy, angry, and some readers may give up on her, but... there's something about Rachel that doesn't sit right. Some inkling of misunderstanding between readers and her harrowing tales of drunken stupor. The reason behind her drinking is understandable. If I were in her situation, three glasses of wine and a few gin and tonics may seem likely to help the pain. Though alcohol is never the answer, at the bottom of the darkest pit, maybe a little forgetting is okay. I think most readers will see that Rachel's depression and lost dreams are holding her back. The character depicted is not the real Rachel. The real Rachel is the refracted beam of sunlight striking the glass windows of a train, there for a moment in perfect clarity.
Megan and Anna also share the status of narrator with Rachel. Megan is the missing woman. The woman who Rachel watched from the train with the seemingly perfect life. Anna is the mistress, the woman who replaced Rachel, the woman who gave her husband a child. Readers will worry about Megan in the beginning, care for her. But secrets have a way of getting out and her life is far from the perfection Rachel imagined. Though readers will still form a connection with Megan, Anna might not make the cut. Mistress, replacement, worried mother. Readers may see that Anna doesn't have it so easy, but home-wreckers aren't often given the benefit of the doubt. However, there is more to Anna than an ugly label.
These three women share the stage as all of their worlds collide. Rachel still loves her husband and he often talks her down off the ledge while trying to keep Anna happy. But Megan's disappearance upsets the norm after Rachel sees Megan kissing a man, most definitely not her husband, from her seat on the train. She is compelled to help move the suspect scope away from the loving husband. But she was there. Rachel was in town the night Megan went missing. She saw something but her mind refuses to release the blacked out information. Readers will feel just as compelled to know what happened. The Girl on the Train is a gripping disaster with too many questions and possibilities, not enough answers or truth. Once I started this enveloping novel, I couldn't quit until the memories were sorted. For those who like a good mystery, or a great mystery, read this book.
Rating: 4.5/5 Cups