Book: The Girl on the Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Release Date: January 13, 2015
My rating: 5 stars out of 5
I’m not often able to share books with my dad. I don’t read a lot of thrillers or crime novels. I read more YA, fantasy, women’s fiction, and romance (both historical and contemporary) – you know, happier stuff. I even read literary fiction sometimes. But, a friend recommended The Girl on the Train and so, when my dad got it for Christmas and finished it in something like two days while I was visiting him, I asked if I could borrow it.
And boy, am I glad I did.
The Girl on the Train is a unique read. Paula Hawkins writes in a strange, yet wonderful style. Each chapter is written from one character’s perspective, sort of a past-tense journal style. Each day is broken up into morning and evening, and the reader is told by the character what happened.
I’ll be completely honest and tell you that it took me a good while to get into the style, (and the characters, and the story). But once I did, I was hooked. I had a physical need to keep reading and figure out what happens (or, actually, what happened).
I had no idea what I was getting into when I borrowed this book. I hadn’t read a synopsis or anything. Weird, I know. I think this is probably what made it difficult to get absorbed into the world of the story. I knew it was supposed to be a suspenseful, exciting story, but it seemed to only be a sad girl commuting to and from work, and lamenting all the things wrong with her life. It’s a slow start, but on reflection, it is good character building and place setting.
But don’t you worry, the pacing picks up and, oh gosh, it gets intense. There is so much emotion in this novel. The characters all seem real and deep, and just, ugh. They have so many layers. I needed to know more about them. I constantly felt Hawkins pulling me, teasing me with information and then making me wait to figure out what the information meant. Her pacing was brilliant.
I felt a kinship to Rachel, the main character. She wants to be a mother and her inability to have a baby tears her life apart. Hawkins wrote Rachel in such a way that as much as you may not agree with her choices or even like her much, you feel her emotional pain and empathize with her. I was overwhelmed by my emotional attachment to Rachel and her agony.
I was also rewarded with a strong, satisfying ending. I like happy endings. And no, this ending isn’t all happy – but it has enough resolution that I felt fulfilled. I think this is why I so rarely read thrillers – I like happy, satisfying, fulfilling endings and you rarely get them in realistic, suspenseful crime novels.
The Girl on the Train is full of emotional commentary on marriage, relationships, manipulation, and self-esteem, and it’s all wrapped up in the mystery of an intriguing disappearance. If you want to try a thriller, give this one a shot. It’s definitely a book I want to read again.