book reviews

Book Review: The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

“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?

A compulsively readable, emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller that draws comparisons to Gone Girl, The Silent Wife, or Before I Go to Sleep, this is an electrifying debut embraced by readers across markets and categories.” 

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That’s the summation from Goodreads, and of course, after reading that, I had to read this book. Hitchcockian is right–Paula Hawkins debut novel is worth the time. It was not at all what I’d expected, and that alone kept me reading. At the halfway mark I found myself saying “This book has me all screwed up! And I cannot put it down!” I had to find out why, and who. Now, be warned: there are a couple of spoilers in this review, although I do not give the end away (I’m not that kind of person!).

Told primarily by Rachel, who isn’t always a reliable narrator, we see how these people’s lives are intertwined. Rachel may be crazy, you think. The others who tell their sides (Anna and Megan) may be as well. A bit of the literary criticism that was pounded into my head in college popped up as I read this, so I will share it with you, even though I normally just read a story for the story. Rachel rides the train every day, back & forth to a job she no longer has, looking out the window at the house she lived in with her ex-husband, who now lives there with his new wife & baby. She’s got a drinking problem, and has become a bit obsessed with the couple who live in the house a few doors down from her old house–the couple she calls Jess & Jason. Rachel is, in the beginning of the book, on a journey to nowhere. As her story unfolds, and she gets involved in things outside the train windows, we see that she is finally moving forward. The train is a symbol of her journey.

This novel has been compared to Gone Girl, and a couple of other things I’ve not read, but the comparison to Hitchcock is spot on. Read it. You’ll like it.

Oh, and another thing–I had not figured out who or why by the time it was revealed, and that, as you may know is always a plus in any mystery for me!