These summer afternoons stretch lazily into evenings, like the rose and ochre clouds that stretch across the sunset. As the fireflies hover and pulse in the twilight, the outdoor temperature becomes perfect, the day's heat waning to a tolerable level. My favorite way to utilize the last of the sunlight is to kick back in a chair with the windows open, a glass of sweet tea in hand, and a good book cracked open in my lap.
Last week, the book was Paula Hawkins' novel The Girl on the Train. After downloading this book on my Kindle, I devoured the story in just two days. Which is possibly the fastest I've read a book in a long while. Once completed, however, I had mixed feelings about the story. So today, I wanted to share my thoughts on this bestseller and see if you're in agreement.
Warning: if you haven't read the story, there are spoilers ahead!
1. The biggest irritation I had with this story was its portrayal of relationships. Every woman in the story was somehow being used by or using her significant other. Personally, I found this to be a somewhat pessimistic view of relationships. In fact, ALL the relationships in the story were somehow exploitative. Everyone used everyone else and seemed to place their own comfort or needs ahead of others. After awhile, I found myself wondering if anyone in the story was going to turn out to be a decent person. They didn't. And the conclusion did not leave you with any hope for their betterment in the future. I know... I know... Hawkins was showing us that you never know what's going on behind closed doors and that nothing is what it seems. But still.
2. The unveiling of the murderer's identity was a bit of shock to me. The entire book, I was convinced that the protagonist Rachel had committed the murder. Occasionally, my spidey-senses pinged on the victim's husband, especially after he revealed his inner crazy. Were you surprised by the murderer reveal? When it became clear who'dun'it, I looked up from the book at my husband and said "GASP! I'm shocked!" Yes, I actually said the word gasp because occasionally I'm a dork. I suppose it had to be someone in the inner circle of characters, but I find it hard to believe that someone could be so deluded about their spouse's character. If your husband is an abusive, raving, murderous jerk... surely at some point it would reveal itself. See? Communication in relationships saves you from a world of hurt. Quite literally.
3. The ending was about as lackluster as they get. The murderer dies. And then everyone drifts to the four winds, never communicating again. Rachel manages to achieve about three weeks worth of sobriety. Tenuous sobriety, I might add. There's no indication whether she's attending AA meetings, finding a job, or living on her own. Instead, she just remains her jumpy, paranoid self. I know, I shouldn't blame her. She went through a ridiculous ordeal. Yet I have to say, the whole time I read her character's POV, I found myself getting very irritated. She just couldn't pull herself together! I appreciate Hawkins' ability to portray an addictive, abused personality... but still. At some point, you want the girl to get over the breakup, pull herself up by her bootstraps, and face reality. But no. The book concludes with Rachel hopping on "her train"-- an act which seems to symbolize that she hasn't changed, that she's stuck in the same rut, committing the same errors, as unable to change track as the train she rides.
All of this being said, The Girl on the Train was still a captivating read. While it wasn't the mind-blowing novel I expected from all the hype, I did enjoy it. Because of its thrilling pace, it still gets my "beach read" stamp of approval.
What are your thoughts on the novel?