OM Serious G. I just finished The Girl on the Train, and I am pretty amazed with what author Paula Hawkins has accomplished. The girl on the train is Rachel. She’s a sad, pathetic woman – childless, divorced, jobless, and drunken much of the time, barely hanging on. Her own life is so bleak that every day, as she passes through the neighborhood where she used to live, she looks out the window of the train and spies on a young couple that she calls Jess and Jason. She sees how beautiful, how happy they are, living just a few doors down from where Tom – Rachel’s ex-husband – and his new wife, Anna, live with their baby. They are also happy, and Anna is living the life that Rachel should have had with Tom.
Only it’s not that simple. Jason and Jess are really Scott and Megan, and Megan is pretty messed up, with some serious backstory going on. And Anna is not just a doting young mother. In fact, almost everybody in this novel is complicated. The book is told in first person, shifting from Rachel’s perspective to Anna’s to Megan’s. Little by little we learn more about the women, their pasts and their tragic present, tied together in a way you won’t foresee.
Here’s the scoop: Megan disappears one night. Suspicion falls on her husband, of course. What can Rachel do besides find a way to tell the police what she saw through the train window: Megan kissing another man. Of course, Rachel is an unreliable witness. In fact, she’s unreliable even to herself. She’s haunted by the idea that she knows more than she can recall. Her memory of the night that Megan disappeared is fragmented and incomplete, but when Megan’s body is found, Rachel becomes convinced that the truth is buried deep in her brain. She pulls herself together, stays sober (mostly) and begins to investigate. Ineptly, of course, but that just adds to the suspense. By the time she gets it figured out, the reader is right there with her, trying to stay alive.
The Girl on the Train is sure to elicit comparisons to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, as they both have unreliable narrators, intricate plots, and OMG endings. And while I raved about Gone Girl, I have to say that Train has an edge from my perspective: characters that are worth caring about. You really root for Rachel. With GG, it was hard to find anybody to root for.
Reviewers have been raving about the book, for good reason. As with Gone Girl, I foresee a movie in the making.