September Book of the Month: The Girl on the Train
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?
― Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train (excerpt)
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Why do we find the unavailable so alluring? Why are we drawn to some people and not others? Just how fragile is our sanity? To help answer these questions, we introduce our Book of the Month feature; The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins.
Without giving too much away, you will meet Rachel Watson. A 30 something recent divorcee who is battling with an alcohol addiction. Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning and evening. She knows that it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a back row of gardens. Her daily commute allows her a glimpse into the lives of the families that live in one of the houses. One such home is that of ‘Jess’ and ‘Jason’. Perhaps they appeal to her like so because they are to her, a shining symbol of all that she’s lost. And so, she begins to follow their daily lives, drawing from the minute glimpse her daily commute allows her, forming stories around the kind of people she thinks that they could be. The book picks its pace from these daily commutes, unraveling into what I think is an extremely gratifying read.
It’s a beautiful foundation for a psychological thriller, and Hawkins sets it up cleverly right from the outset, drawing the reader unavoidably into Rachel’s confused fantasy world of half-truths and alcohol-induced slip-ups. Even before “Jess” goes missing, throwing the ill-equipped Rachel into the middle of a domestic mystery, we are locked into her battles with herself and those around her.
The book treads mindfully around the issues of: Mental illness; unrequited love and the consequences of this; Inertia; Domestic Violence; Drug and Substance Abuse an exhaustive list would run into the hundreds.
The book reads like a close cousin to Gillian Flynn’s ‘Gone Girl’ in the sense that it gives agency to the lead characters, who are all notably women- a relief from the stereotype that often portray female characters as either objects of beauty, victims of life or as demure, submissive homemakers-. It’s nice to see a woman play the villain, don’t you think? Albeit flawed and seemingly unbalanced, these characters mirror the darkness and complexities that exists deep within each one of us. Although human nature is neither distinctly good nor bad, this book will redefine that blurry line that denotes ‘good’ from ‘bad’.
If you haven’t already, you can buy your copy using this link
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Happy Reading, and have a lovely September!