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‘The Girl on the Train’ review

George Johnston

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Rachel is a depressed alcoholic struggling to get over her ex-husband. Bored, suburban housewife Megan suffers from insomnia. And Anna lives in marital bliss with Rachel’s ex. First-time author Paula Hawkins appropriates these characters as load-bearing walls for her new novel, “The Girl On The Train.”

Told through interchanging first person perspectives, “The Girl on the Train” sends thrills with its mystery. The real elation comes from seeing the fragmented puzzle pieces join together to create a picture of what happens.

Rachel takes the role of the main character, and her story is explored largely. From her small suburb, Rachel commutes to London every work week. During her trips, Rachel daydreams about a couple she sees on her train ride. She names them Jason and Jesse. On her way back, she drinks until she arrives home.

One day while on her commute, Rachel witnesses a gut-wrenching event in Jason and Jesse’s home. It was only for a second as the train passed their house, but Rachel believes she saw something happen— leaving an ambiguous enigma to be solved.

Hawkins delves into themes of alcoholism, purpose and suburbia through the novel’s characters.

While Rachel feels fully developed, the antagonist, Anna, feels underdeveloped. For a majority of the novel, Anna has no real depth besides being “the good housewife” and foil to Rachel. Megan, however, steals the spotlight from Rachel. When Hawkins focuses on Megan, all interest in Rachel is practically lost. Any further details on Megan’s story treads on spoiler territory.

The narration and interior monologues of each character are rich— something the reader can sink their teeth into. Hawkins writes so eloquently that big, unappetizing chunks of text become a relish to read.

Anglophiles will delight at nuances of British culture spread across the novel.

The dialogue is lacking, even sounding cliché at certain points. Dialogue can either make or break a book and fortunately the dialogue is still good enough to prevent “The Girl on the Train” from being a train wreck.

The Girl on the Train $26.95 cover price / $13.47 on Amazon

George Johnston can be reached at [email protected] or @gjohnston786 on Twitter.

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‘The Girl on the Train’ review