Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Photography by Stewart Black found in Flickr.com

Photography by Stewart Black found in Flickr.com

I have spent a good part of the summer catching up on my reading wish list since the master’s I just finished gave me little time for “recreational reading.” Yesterday, while I was searching for a novel, I came across Paula Hawkins The Girl on the Train. I must admit that I was a bit skeptical when I first found it on Amazon’s best seller list. The summary wasn’t captivating enough to pull me into it. It was rather a review I read that made me give it a chance. One reader compared it to Gone Girl, and I was intrigued to find out why.

At the beginning, the story is told through the eyes of Rachel. Rachel is a recently divorced woman who is dealing with her world crumbling down mixed in with alcoholism, unemployment and loneliness. Every morning she makes a useless commute to London, and on her way she is captivated by two houses in one of the towns the train stops in. Every morning Rachel sees a couple who lives two doors down from where she used to live before her world collapsed. Every morning she observes this couple and creates a story in her head of how their lives must be, their names and even their jobs. However, on one of those days that Rachel observes them, she sees the woman with another man. The day after, this woman goes missing. Rachel holds on to this crucial piece of information in order to help find this mysterious woman that has gone missing as well as to save her husband from being blamed for her disappearance.

As the story progresses the reader hears more from two other characters, Megan and Anna. We see what Megan was going through before she was missing, as well as Anna’s life as Rachel meddles into her life and that of her husband Tom, Rachel’s ex husband. The story is as mixed as it sounds: everyone’s lives are connected in the way you least expect. People’s assumptions of what is happening have a great effect on the story plot and it isn’t until the very end that we can somewhat understand it all.

The story line of The Girl on the Train is very interesting and relatable. Although Rachel’s destructive behaviour creates a bit of frustration because it is this behaviour that continues to get her in trouble, her sadness and loneliness are very much relatable. Who hasn’t felt at the bottom of the world after a terrible break up? Hawkins manages to keep us on our toes throughout the entire novel as we try to figure out what happened to Megan and who is responsible.

A deeper issue that makes The Girl on the Train not only a great novel but one of extreme relevance is its closeness to women’s issues such as domestic abuse, depression and having children. While these issues are not solely female issues, Hawkins presents them in the lives of three very different women. The pressures of becoming a mother affect Rachel, Megan and Anna in very different ways as well. In these characters, we can appreciate different ways of dealing, of surviving and of making peace.

In short, I am very glad I found The Girl on the Train yesterday. I read that Dreamworks purchased the rights for this movie. While I am a firm book-nerd that believes the book is ALWAYS better than the movie, I am curious to see the adaptation of this novel.

What are your thoughts on The Girl on the Train?

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