I love to read and I especially like to read thrillers – books that you can’t put down because you have to see what happens next. “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins recently won the Goodreads “Thriller of the Year Award” so that put it on my list to check out. I got the e-book from the library and started it, prepared to be thrilled.
“The Girl on the Train” starts off with life as Rachel sees it from her spot on a commuter train. Every day she passes the same houses and she makes up stories about the people she sees in the houses, especially one couple who lives on the street where Rachel lived before her divorce. Step by step, chapter by chapter, more is revealed about those lives. Rachel is not the hard-working businesswoman we imagine her to be in the first chapter. The perfect couple she can see from the train is not so perfect. Gradually the reasons behind Rachel’s divorce are revealed – or are they?
“The Girl on the Train” is a masterful exploration of how we see people and how we see ourselves. How much of our perceptions can we trust? How much is based on reality and how much comes from our imagination or our desire for order and stability? The gradually revealed lives of the people that can be seen from the train have layers and depths that change depending on the perspective.
This is not a thriller in the sense of heart-pounding action, but a psychological thriller in the best sense. Reality depends on your perspective, no one is perfect, and people are not what they seem.
I had a hard time getting into the book because Rachel is not a very endearing character. She is so flawed that I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue to read the book. But I’m glad I kept with it because the reasons for her flaws, and what she chooses to do about it, are part of the action of the story. In the end, Rachel is the one who rescues everyone – including herself. But how she does it is unexpected and worth exploring.
Author Paula Hawkins was a journalist. She was born in Zimbabwe and lives in London. “Girl on the Train” is Paula Hawkins’ first novel and it is well worth reading. Check it out and stick with it. You will think about it long after you are finished reading – the mark of a really good book for me.