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?
Having skimmed through a few of the reviews for Girl on the Train, the theme seems to be the inability of many readers to relate to the characters, especially Rachel. Honestly, there are few redeeming qualities in each of the characters. Because EVERY SINGLE ONE of them has secrets and fears that drive them, you learn pretty early on not to trust the reliability of any of them.
There’s the drunk, the liar, the cheater, another liar, another cheater, and yet another cheater.
Here’s the thing, though, I feel like some of us can definitely relate to Rachel, even if we don’t actually live through being cheated on, being barren, a divorce, the loss of a job all within two years. But aren’t those some of the main fears of just being a woman? Hasn’t any woman woken up in the middle of the night in tears because she’s dreamed she’s lost her significant other? Hasn’t any woman reached over to hold him to reassure herself it’s just a dream?
I can see the overwhelming desire just to give up. I can see the need to create something beautiful with the wisp of something seen, especially every day. I can even understand the desperate need to separate from that kind of reality with a little drink.
And, a few times, I completely felt for Rachel when she questions her sanity. To pick yourself up after a such devastation…well, you’re gonna slide a few times.
Has no one ever met a man like Tom? I have. Those guys do exist. They never lay a finger on you, but you feel crazy by the end. Seriously, girls, you need to read this to recognize the character and avoid him like the plague.
Don’t forget Anna. The woman, despite getting everything she wanted, holds a generous bit of anger, dipped into naivety, wrapped around a cold steel core. Women like this, you are out there, even if you never admit it, you know.
Megan…well, she will have to tell you her story.
These are not nice people. But that makes the story gripping. (After you get through Rachel’s day-to-day descriptions that really move you through her mind, one drunk night after another.)
Yes, I would describe it as Hitchcockian. Yes, the plot is comparable to Rear Window. But stick three unreliable narrators and no voice of reason and you get to feel the slippery slope of madness.