Review: The Girl on the Train

Book Title: The Girl on the Train

Book Author: Paula Hawkins

Book Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ (5 out of 5 stars)

Synopsis: “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?”

I am a people-watcher.  I find it very entertaining to watch people as they go on with their everyday, mundane tasks.  I think a lot of people do this.  The Girl on the Train explores this practice and what can happen if you take it much too far.  Rachel is struggling to keep her head above water after her husband leaves her for another woman, and she loses her job because of her alcohol problem. In order to avoid having to tell her roommate that she has lost her job, Rachel continues taking the commuter train into London every day, where she people-watches and drinks excessively.  Every day on the train, she passes by the street where she shared a home with her ex-husband, and sees a couple just a few doors down that she becomes enthralled with.  She imagines their perfect life and love, all from her seat on the train.  But one morning she sees something at their home that shocks her and crushes her fantasy of their perfect life; and the next day the wife (Megan) disappears.

Because of her drinking problem, Rachel often has blackouts.  She begins having flashbacks to the night that Megan went missing, and realizes that she was in their neighborhood on the night of the crime.  As she tries to put the pieces together, she begins entangling herself in the investigation.  And everyone, including herself, seems capable of doing harm to Megan.

I’m not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that this is one of the best psychological thrillers that I have ever read.  I absolutely did not want to put it down.  This book contained three very, very flawed narrators (Rachel – the girl on the train; Anna – “the other woman”, now married to Rachel’s ex; and Megan – the girl who has disappeared without a trace), who were all at times intensely unlikable, and yet I felt sympathetic towards each of them.  As all of the pieces of the mystery kept coming together, I really did not know who possibly could have been responsible for Megan’s disappearance.  And my theory on “whodunnit” changed about a dozen times throughout the course of the book, all leading up to the shocking and satisfying conclusion.  I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

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