This is the first of many wonderful books I got for Christmas this year, and it was so exciting that I read it in one day! The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins is a novel about a woman, Rachel, who rides the trains in London every day and sees a glimpse of the same couple each time she rides. She makes up a story and life for these people and comes to think she knows them–but then, a morbid mystery surrounds their life and Rachel has a chance to be a part of it. She knows a vital piece of information that may save someone’s life… or does she?
I like this book because I am a huge fan of the shifting perspectives narrative style. This book switches between Rachel, who is arguably the main character; Megan whose voice adds a much-needed proponent to the plot; and Anna, who tempers Rachel’s story by showing us the other side and leaves us with a (mostly) unbiased view of what’s going on. I also love the structure that is based off of a journal-entry style of writing. In the beginning, Rachel takes the morning and evening trains, so we get to hear from her twice a day–at morning and at evening. But I love how this is carried throughout the book even when her schedule is upset and even when the focus is not on her.
I also love the mystery that surrounds this book. I think I suspected every single character at one point for committing the crime, and I didn’t have a sense of who it actually was until about one chapter before. I was very proud of myself for figuring it out when I did! I think it’s really interesting how in the beginning, Rachel is portrayed as unstable, obsessive, and alcoholic, and she fantasizes about other people. She clearly doesn’t live in reality. While she makes some bad choices during the investigation and is probably lucky to be alive, I think this ordeal helped her immensely. She learned why it’s crucial to be sober and present and she how forgetting large chunks of your life can actually ruin it. She learned not to judge people based on their outer impression, because people have a lot more going on under the surface that you cannot guess from looking at the exterior. And my favorite part was when she got together with Anna and they pieced together the puzzle. She learned to set aside her preconceived notions of hate and shift her perspectives to discover the truth, and that someone she trusted was the one who set her up for failure.
I also liked how every character had a major flaw. Not a single one of them was perfect, not even the therapist. At first, everyone thought Rachel was crazy, including Rachel. But as Anna’s life got more hellish, she found herself starting to do the exact things Rachel used to. Scott thought she was a stalker, but it turns out her information was accurate. And then Rachel discovered she wasn’t a terrible person when she was drunk like she had previously thought. All of these things helped her to get better. And in the end, it was the woman whose life looked so perfect and desirable from the outside that really had it the worst. She was unstable and malicious in her actions, not thinking about the consequences. She was obviously disturbed from her previous life experiences, but by the time she started to get help, it was too late for her.
I really enjoyed this book. It was a great mix of mystery and personal relationship dynamics. I thought it contained an authentic mix of characters and I loved seeing he development, although I did think Scott was unnecessarily violent at times. I would definitely recommend this book!