“The Girl on the Train” Book Review

Written by Andrea Martin. Media by Madison Moran.


The Girl on the Train. Source: yahoo.com
The Girl on the Train. Source: yahoo.com

Taking over the number one spot of the New York Times’ Best Sellers list for the seventh week in a row is “The Girl on the Train” (TGOTT) written by Paula Hawkins.

The psychological thriller sold over a million copies this month and it doesn’t look to be losing steam any time soon. Being called the new “Gone Girl,” “TGOTT” tells the story of recently divorcee Rachel, who is a chronic alcoholic and an unreliable narrator throughout the book. Taking the train from her town to her “job,” Rachel passes a couple every day during a stop and watches the normal scene pan out in front of her. One day, though, she witnesses something disturbing, which reels her into a deep and pulsating mystery involving other major and minor characters whose narration causes deep inner conflict for the reader.


Rachel’s inability to deal with her crumbling marriage led to her alcoholic tendencies, causing memory relapses and blackouts, which ultimately leaves her as an unreliable source of information. But one of her biggest strengths is her ability to get people to empathize with her, leading her back into the main focus when it comes to analyzing her situation.

Hawkins acknowledged Rachel’s character as a risk when it came to being forward and upfront, but it doesn’t take away from getting people to feel sympathetic for her.

“I have a lot of sympathy for Rachel,” Hawkins says. “I thought she was compelling and I thought that she’ll be recognizable to a lot of people as someone they know who’s just slipped over the edge.”

Author Paula Hawkins. Source: npr.org
Author Paula Hawkins. Source: npr.org

Hawkins’ writing in “TGOTT” has been heavily praised as has been the plot, which keeps readers drawn in yet leaves them baffled through the twists and turns of the mystery. Released on January 13, it has been the runaway hit of 2015 thus far leading topping best sellers list throughout the country as well as being the top pick for E-books.

“People keep saying, ‘Has it sunk in?’  ” Hawkins said, “and ‘I don’t know’ is the short answer.”

For now, Hawkins is just enjoying the moment, but has come a long way since reaching success. Born in Zimbabwe, Hawkins studied in London and became a journalist, traveling by train to get to London for her job. She used her personal experience of her train rides for the basis of “The Girl on the Train,” and it hasn’t backfired.

The rights of the book have been purchased by DreamWorks, who plan to make a film in the upcoming years.

As the novel has gained more and more recognition, it has been compared with fellow author Gillian Flynn’s novel “Gone Girl,” which also has unreliable narration but depicts the story of a marriage gone wrong. Hawkins has said that she enjoys Flynn’s work, but sees her novel as something completely different from Gone Girl. But she is happy to be in the circle of female authors who are willing to tap into the darker side of people.

“I suppose they are preoccupations that play on the minds of a lot of women,” Hawkins said.

“I am interested in the ordinary sort of threat,” she added. “I know that people are interested in things like serial killers and what-have-you, but, actually, those aren’t the sort of crimes that really happen very much. The sort of crimes that happen tend to be more of a domestic nature and quite banal, but the psychology behind them is always fascinating.”

“It’s the stories that lead you to the violence that are interesting.”


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