I’m sure you’ve heard the hype by now for one of the past year’s best seller’s: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. When I worked as a librarian last year, the only time I saw a copy of the book was when it was going straight from the hold shelf to the checkout counter. I had been wanting to read it for ages, and now that I finally have, I can officially say that the hype is no joke. This book has immediately become one of my favorite books of all time.
The main character, Rachel, is a deeply flawed alcoholic who is admittedly obsessed with a couple she has never met. She watches this couple from her train every day on her commute to London, reliving the blissful days of her failed marriage vicariously through these strangers.
One day, she catches a glimpse of something out of the ordinary…and the mystery woman, Megan, goes missing the next day. Rachel takes it upon herself to solve the case, because she has let herself become incredibly emotionally attached to these people. She feels that she is somehow responsible for discovering what truly happened to Megan.
This book is dark and at times deeply disturbing, but it was so well written that it became all I could think about when I had to put it down. This story deals with depression, alcoholism, and emotional/physical abuse in a way that brings you closer to the main characters. You don’t just feel sorry for them, you understand them. The things you read about them make you generally care about the fictional characters’ well-being. Though Rachel and Megan are flawed, you can’t help but root for them. The author plants just enough seeds throughout the beginning of the book that the reader doesn’t really know who is innocent and who is not. This novel also deals with emotional abuse in a very raw way.
*Mild Spoilers Ahead*
We see the abuse completely change Rachel both physically and mentally. The emotional and physical abuse that her ex-husband, Tom, put her through forced her to see herself as a completely different person. He took advantage of Rachel in her most vulnerable state and literally altered her reality. It is heart-wrenching to read, but necessary to understand. It brings to light the aspect of emotional abuse in which the abused person has been so deeply affected by the abuser, that they truly believe they are the one in the wrong. They do not question it.
These characters feel so deeply and ardently real, you can imagine that the woman sitting next to you on the train might have gone through the same things Rachel has, that your next door neighbor could be going through the same things as Megan. The whole thing is so tragically human, it’s brilliant.
The movie starring Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, and Justin Theroux comes out October 7th.