Review: The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Remember that breakup you weren't sure you could recover from? The one where your partner just brutally dumped you? You almost teetered off the edge, withdrawing from your friends and your job, and drinking more than you should have. But then you said to yourself, "If I don't stop this, I will become someone I can't bear to look at it in the mirror." And you dusted yourself off, called your sister or your friend, and you got on with your life. If you had not done so, Rachel, the titular girl on the train, is what you would have become.

This was a fantastically written book, yet very hard to read. The plot is not at all like Gone Girl (all the reviews compare it to Gillian Flynn's book). But it is similar in that all of the characters—I repeat, ALL of them—are hideously unlikeable. From the pathetic boozehound stalker, Rachel, and the cheating, lying Megan Hipwell and sad-sack enabler Anna, there is no one to root for in this book. They are all the type of women you would do well to immediately excommunicate from your circle of friends. So why did I like this book? What took me through to the end even though it was supremely painful at times?

Hawkins is a master at realistic narration, dialogue, and motivations in damaged women. Both beautiful and terrible, her words inspired both self-reflection and objective admiration of how she wields her craft. I firmly believe likable characters are not a necessity for good literature, and this is a prime example. I recommend this book. But fair warning, my lady friends... if you're fresh off a divorce or infertility, you might want to keep it on your 'to-read' list for a little while before you start on this one.

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