The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Published by: Riverhead Books on January 13, 2015
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)
“I have never understood how people can blithely disregard the damage they do by following their hearts. Who was it said that following your heart is a good thing? It is pure egotism, a selfishness to conquer all.”
Rachel’s life is not in a place where she’d like it to be. She’s divorced from her husband, who found a new woman while they were still married. She was terminated from her job. Living with a friend, she’s trying to get things back on track. But until then, she goes through the motions, taking the train into London each day, staying there for the work day, and returning home.
But the train goes right past her old neighborhood, making it hard to leave the memories behind. Interestingly, though, it’s not Rachel’s husband and his new wife that catches her attention. It’s a new couple who has moved in down the street. Rachel sees them almost every day, and the love they share for each other is clear to her. They are, as she describes them, a perfect couple.
One one of her trips, however, Rachel sees something that shatters her image of this couple. It hits home in a way that she never expected, and she finds herself returning to her old neighborhood, despite her husband’s pleas that she stay away. But drunken courage and impaired judgment prevail. When Rachel wakes the next morning, everything changes. The woman from Rachel’s perfect couple has gone missing. The husband is a suspect. And while Rachel can’t exactly remember what she saw, she knows he wouldn’t hurt his wife. She’s certain of it. But should she rely on what is nothing more than an incomplete memory? Should she trust her instinct, even if she’s not sure why her belief is so strong? And if the police don’t believe her, why should she believe herself?
I enjoy a good mystery. I adore a well-written thriller. And I love stories where we, as readers, get the chance to really understand the protagonist. And The Girl on the Train is all those things and more. It’s a well-paced, thought-provoking read that is deceptive in that it tackles a number of issues that one may not expect when looking at the synopsis or the story from a very high-level perspective.
There’s a part of me that wants to list through the various issues, but I also want to be mindful of spoiling what I consider is one of the best aspects of this story. But I think I can summarize by at least saying that one key theme is that relationships aren’t always what they seem from the outside. And they also aren’t always what they seem to the people in them. To know someone and to trust them is to have faith in both our own judgment and perceptions. It’s a matter of giving ourselves over to something and someone else and hoping we made the right decision.
My only qualm with this book is that I started to suspect the resolution a little earlier than I think the author intended. As I watched the final clues roll out, I had already placed a very high suspicion on who I thought was responsible. It’s not necessarily a bad thing; I just really like when an author can keep me guessing until right near the end. But there was still some new information that came out as the last few scenes played out.
There’s no question for my why this became such a hit so quickly. And I am absolutely looking forward to seeing the film adaptation.