The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins- Book Review

“let’s be honest: women are still only really valued for two things—their looks and their role as mothers.”
Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train

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The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins has so many good reviews. I am yet to come across any reader that didn’t like the book. My book club chose this book as our first read for 2016. I must admit, this was a good choice, one of the few books that I have read in just two days.

About the Book
A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.

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?

Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.

Girl on the Train reminded me of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It’s a fast paced thriller that will keep you at the edge of your seat. The story is narrated by three women, Rachel, Ann and Megan. However, Rachel is the main narrator. One thing that I didn’t quite expect when I started reading the book is the insight that Rachel gives into the workings of the mind of an alcoholic. She has numerous memory gaps and sometimes her memories are all crumbled up and inaccurate. Her battle with the bottle is also quite heartrending.


Rachel is not only battling with alcoholism, she is also jobless and divorced although still in love with her ex husband, Tom, despite his betrayal. She is at a tough time in her life and so she escapes this by creating a fantasy about a glamorous couple that she sees everyday while on her daily commute. This couple lives near her ex husband, Tom and his new wife, Anna. The seemingly perfect couple who she nicknames Jason and Jess is actually Scott and Megan whose lives are far from faultless.

“When did you become so weak?” I don’t know. I don’t know where that strength went, I don’t remember losing it. I think that over time it got chipped away, bit by bit, by life, by the living of it.”
Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train

The lives of these three women are tragically intertwined mainly because of the men in the lives. Although they seem to be very different, the three women all carry baggage. When Megan goes missing, Rachel is convinced that she can solve this mystery because of something that she saw from the train. In addition, she happened to have been near Megan’s home the night that she disappeared and thinks that she might be holding an important clue. However, as it turns out, Rachel can’t remember the events of that night because she was too drunk. She forcefully immerses herself into the investigation but then again, due to her alcoholism, nobody believes her and the police dismiss her immediately. In addition, every move that she makes seems to be the wrong one.

“I am not the girl I used to be. I am no longer desirable, I’m off-putting in some way. It’s not just that I’ve put on weight, or that my face is puffy from the drinking and the lack of sleep; it’s as if people can see the damage written all over me, can see it in my face, the way I hold myself, the way I move.”
Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins has very good twists as the secrets of the characters are revealed. Rachel’s attempts to put together the events of night that Megan disappeared add to the suspense as readers will keep guessing whether she will regain her memory or not. Of the three women, I found myself most drawn to Rachel due to her struggles. This is one thing that Paula Hawkins did very well; she ingeniously created a character that is likable, memorable and easy to connect with.

“She must be very secure in herself, I suppose, in them, for it not to bother her, to walk where another woman has walked before. She obviously doesn’t think of me as a threat. I think about Ted Hughes, moving Assia Wevill into the home he’d shared with Plath, of her wearing Sylvia’s clothes, brushing her hair with the same brush. I want to ring Anna up and remind her that Assia ended up with her head in the oven, just like Sylvia did.”
Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train

I loved the book and highly recommend it. It is well paced right from the first page and keeps readers engaged all the way to the very last page. It’s the kind of thriller that readers will keep talking about long after they turn the last page.

“It’s impossible to resist the kindness of strangers. Someone who looks at you, who doesn’t know you, who tells you it’s OK, whatever you did, whatever you’ve done: you suffered, you hurt, you deserve forgiveness.”
Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train


    1. Its quite interesting. I know (from your blog) that you love films. Apparently, the film adaptation is set to be released soon (not sure the exact date) 🙂

      Thanks for visiting my blog.

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