What We're Reading Now: 'The Girl on the Train,' Paula Hawkins
Remember a while back, when we discussed how once you raise your hand and let people know you like the flung-far-out-into-another-galaxy-of-weirdness books, all people want to do is give you weirder books? It’s almost like they want to see how far they can push you, until your throw a book against the wall, proclaiming you’re done with weirdness forever. The same can be said for what happens when you mention Gone Girl. Suddenly, there’s a whole stack full of the dark corners of the female psyche on your desk. I’ve torn through many in recent months.
As Leah Greenblatt wrote in her review, this is not the story of the calculated-but-twisted, put-together woman we’re used to seeing in popular lit. Rachel is a mess. She’s a recent divorcee who’s lost her job as well as most her resolve to stay sober, making her an exceptionally unreliable narrator. She commutes to and from London each day for no reason and along the way becomes obsessed with a couple whom she sees from the train most mornings (and names “Jason and Jess”). They have the perfect life, she assumes. Also, they live just down the street from her now-ex-husband, his new wife Anna, and their baby.
One day, Rachel gets off the train and head towards “Jess.” She wakes up later battered and hung over, unable to recall much of the previous evening when she discovers Jess—who’s actually called Megan—is missing. Suddenly, she’s involved.
It’s a thriller, so I won’t go much further. But since Gone Girl, this is the first plot I’ve read that moves with such force. It pushes deep into its characters—who, by the way, are near impossible to like (“Sober up, Rachel!” “What are you hiding, Megan?” “What’s even your point, Anna?”)—and the exploration of what makes them tick heightens the suspense of the mystery. Pick it up when you’ve got the time to tear straight through.
What’s the last book that really excited you?