Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins


Title:  The Girl on the Train
Author: Paul Hawkins
Publisher/Year: Penguin Group 1/13/15
Length:  289 pages


A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.

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.

My Thoughts

It’s funny – i don’t usually gravitate towards this type of book, but after hearing a bunch of the girls who work for me talking about it, i figured that it was worth picking up.  especially since i feel like i need to find ‘commuter train appropriate’ reading.  (i.e. something that’s not necessarily embarrassing if someone were to read over my shoulder).

So with this book, it’s definitely a genre that i don’t usually read, but interesting none the less since you spend more of the story trying to get to the crux of things – trying to understand what’s making each of the main characters so miserable and then figuring out what it is that made them all intertwined and ultimately find out the killer.

The story is told in a series of chapters that are all semi parallel path.  We meet Rachel who’s really our narrator as she’s in quite a bad place in her life.  Things have gone from bad to worse with her in the sense that she’s not recently divorced, but she’s still dealing with those repercussions – she’s lost her job, but again not uber recent.  She’s had this drinking problem that started back before her divorce and because it continues to maifest herself, it takes us almost the entire story to figure out exactly what happened and then figure out what to do.

We then get to see the story told by Megan – a second main who’s actually the bigger victim in all this.  The interesting bits of her story though are that what you see at the onset isn’t really reality, and what you expect to see coming out of it is something that’s even more complicated.  i.e. she’s not being honest or truthful about much of anything and i’ts no surprise actually to see how she finds herself in the predicament that she’s in – just a curious bit as to who the killer ultimately is since we’re constantly wondering if its her husband, her ‘lover’, a random person or even one of the female leads.

The last story teller is Anna, who was the mistress to Rachel’s ex and who is intertwined now that she’s married to Rachel’s ex and she had also hired Megan for a while to be a nanny.  This may be the least exciting bit of it all though since all we really see is her fear and hatred of Rachel and while that’s interesting, it’s not surprising and not necessarily something to carry a story.

So we’re taken on a journey of trying to figure out the bits and pieces of what we’ve missed – we’re thrown off the trail from time to time based on characters that are introduced through Rachel’s experiences and yet, it’s not until the very very end that we see loose ends tied up and actually begin to open our eyes to reality.

While i’m not overly surprised by this ending, i think that my mind wandered to a few other places first.  I think that we all want to hope for the best from Megan’s husband, since he seems to be dealing with a lot, but i don’t know – there’s something there that never felt right.  There’s also the red haired man on the train that keeps popping up that was in the same place at the same time as all of the shenanigans so you have to wonder what he knows and what his involvement is.

All in all, i’m glad that i gave this one a chance since it’s something that i wouldn’t have read otherwise.  Now the question is – where am i left now in this space – i feel like i may be into this genre especially after seeing Gone Girl in theaters last year.  So any suggestions are welcome.  Have a great rest of your day everyone.

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