The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.
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?
Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.
This title is a bit off the beaten path from my well-worn road of YA fantasy/fiction.
I actually came across it in one of my emails from the site BookBub.com. The hubby convinced me to sign up about 6 months ago, and so far I've bought 5+ titles from the site. Members receive a daily newsletter with a list of 5-8 ebooks - often discounted or free - tailored to your specific genre preferences.
At the time, The Girl on the Train was still riding a successful stint on the NYT Bestsellers list, so you can imagine my surprise to find it in one of my daily BookBub emails.
Bought it on my Kindle for .99 cents. BOOM. *drops mic*
The Girl on the Train is an expertly written narrative of a downward spiral of self-destruction. With themes of domestic abuse, violence, alcoholism, and drug abuse, I found myself stress-reading through this title.
From about 74% to the end, I started having heart palpitations. My hands were shaking. Violently. I'M SERIOUS.
This was me:
Diaphragmatic breathing is essential when reading this book. Or elevating feet above level of heart. Left arm above head? Take your pick.
This book is basically a hodge-podge of crazy.
The author, Paula Hawkins, worked as a business journalist in London prior to her career as a novelist. She studied economics, finance, and politics at the University of Oxford *obligatory shout-out to smart business women everywhere!*, and wrote a finance advice book for women titled The Money Goddess.
Oddly enough, she tried her hand at romance novels, all commercially unsuccessful, before turning to a darker, grittier story - AKA The Girl on the Train.
What makes The Girl on the Train so incredible is how raw the writing is when illustrating the ugly face of reality. We're introduced to Rachel, the main narrative voice, who is struggling to find some semblance of normality after a nasty divorce. She:
- drinks too much
- no seriously - WAAAAAYYY too much...to the point where I felt like an alcoholic just reading about it
- has black-outs
- is clinically depressed
- got fired from her job
- still takes the commuter rail into London every morning to keep up a superficial farce to her family and roommate
The best - and worst - part is: this sh!t happens everyday! Life is messy. And while stressful to read (VERY stressful), it was refreshing to see a fragmented, broken character reflected in this story, beaten down and implosive, mirroring the real world's fractured image.
And unlike most fictional narrators, we aren't given the full story from Rachel. She hides things from the reader - much like we tell ourselves lies, refusing to face the truth. As Rachel progresses in her development, discovering the truth behind her divorce, her blackouts, and the couple she watches every morning from her commuter rail window, we see that veil slowly lift - slow, but enough to keep you turning the page at lightening speed!
Written in the format of a personal journal, we also see narrative from supporting characters:
- Megan (the woman who Rachel watches each morning from her train, with a supposedly perfect life and perfect husband, Scott)
- Anna (the woman now married to Rachel's ex-husband, Tom, who became pregnant with Tom's child while he was still married to Rachel).
Some journal entries are written out of chronological order, often 6 months to 2 years before Rachel's accompanying narrative, which really keeps you on your toes.
Tricksy little Paula Hawkins.
Reasons Why You Should Read this NOW:
1. Movie Adaptation - scheduled for October 2016 release
- Emily Blunt - Rachel Watson, MC
- Rebecca Ferguson - Anna, Tom's new wife
- Justin Theroux - Tom, Rachel's cheating ex-husband
- Luke Evans - Scott, Megan's husband
- Haley Bennett - Megan, whom Rachel sees every morning from the train window
- Édgar Ramirez - Dr. Kamal Abdic, Rachel's psychologist
2. Domination in Awards and Bestseller Lists
Goodreads 2015 Best Mystery & Thriller
New York Times Bestseller in Ebooks Fiction AND Hardcover Fiction, over 6 months after its release
Broke records for hardcover sales in U.S. alone! Sold in over 37 countries worldwide!