EVERY DAY THE SAME Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. 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 looks forward to it. She’s even started to fell like she knows them. Jess and Jason, as she calls them. Their life-as she sees it-is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
UNTIL TODAY And then she sees something shocking. I’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
(Story synopsis from Riverhead Books edition/Cover image from goodreads.com)
I know much has been said and written about Paula Hawkins‘ book, The Girl on the Train well before I wrote this post, but I have been waiting. The Girl on the Train is the Pi Phi Pages October read for the Pi Beta Phi book club. I have made it a habit of mine to read the books in the chosen month or later, and so it is now that I am writing this book review.
Let me just start by saying that I simply could not put The Girl on the Train down! Paula Hawkins has written an amazing psychological thriller and mystery that from the very beginning you are guessing about who was actually involved. On top of that, Hawkins has created very flawed characters all around, so even their stories are being questioned by the readers. We have to figure out for ourselves what actually happened (until the very end of course) because there are so many things wrong with each account that is given.
Hawkins starts off by introducing us to Rachel, really our main character throughout the story, but we realize that much of Rachel’s day is preoccupied by struggling to get her life back on track after facing the loss of the life she thought she would have forever. It is through these circumstances that Rachel finds herself watching the people who live in one of the houses just off of the train tracks at one of the stops. She begins imagining the life of “Jess” and “Jason” and creates the life she wanted for herself through them. It is when Rachel witnesses something that she thinks of as “unthinkable” and “unforgivable” that she finds herself suddenly immersed in the real lives of these once fictional people.
Hawkins does all the reader to catch glimpses of the lives of two of the other women, Megan and Anna, by giving us their perspectives at certain points in the timeline of The Girl on the Train. However, even with having different perspectives, it is difficult to believe the cheat, the liar, and the alcoholic. Every single one of the characters in the novel terrible, but not in a literary sense, just in the troubled, seriously flawed character type of way…In fact, Hawkins‘ creation of these terrible characters is utterly brilliant. There is not one reliable person that we can count on throughout the story…not even the therapist. It’s absolutely wonderful.
I will say that if you enjoyed the psychological thriller aspect of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, they you will also be captivated by The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. But I will also say, that they are definitely not the same book, so I would not judge your enjoyment of one based on the other. The Girl on the Train will keep you turning the pages as you unravel the stories told by our unreliable narrators and the men in their lives. This is story that you want to speed through as fast as your daily commute to find out what really happened. I suggest that if you have not yet picked up a copy of The Girl on the Train to do so right away…and then let me know what you thought in the comments below.