The Girl on the Train

Originally published March 2015

Imagine “Gone Girl” from one of Nick’s barfly’s perspectives.

A batshit crazy woman goes missing, and the only help the police get is from the alcoholic that used to live four doors down the street—claiming she saw the missing woman making out with a man that wasn’t her husband as her commuter train rolled past their backyard one day.

Poor, sweet Rachel.

Author Paula Hawkins takes readers on a suck-you-in kind of ride with The Girl on the Train, the story of a young woman in the throes of grieving a divorce and talking solace in the drink, which leads to her losing her job and really, just about any kind of self-respect.

Given her inability to anything but fall down drunk, it’s hard at first to muster up empathy for Rachel. But as her story unfolds, it’s sad, and probably for more than a few people, true. What was at the outset a great marriage goes south when her inability to conceive a baby has her turn to alcohol for relief. Her increasing erratic and foolish behavior drives her husband into the arms of another woman. Said woman steals her man, and her house, and now has the baby and family she always wanted.

I might ride the Metra drinking little bottles of wine, too.

And it’s this pointless train ride she takes every day that gives Rachel the one thing to hold onto—a voyeuristic fantasy that is Jess and Jason, the ridiculously good-looking couple that lives four doors down from her old house. She doesn’t really knows their names, she just made them up. Like my last read, “Building Stories,” the crux of this plotline is one person’s creative mindplay when looking in someone else’s window.

And it’s this fantasy life she’s created for this couple that she leans on—so of course she’s crushed to see Jess (whose name is really Megan) locking lips with another man. And when Megan goes missing? She’s certain it’s not the fault of Jason (whose name is really Scott.) In fact, she was there the night Megan went missing. The only problem? She was so drunk she blacked out.

So who is to blame for Megan’s disappearance? Scott? Rachel? Megan’s long-ago boyfriend? You’ll have to read the book to find out. I don’t want to give it up. I will say this—Rachel has a saint for a roommate.

This book has been getting a lot of press for being this year’s “Gone Girl.” I thought the intricacies of GG’s storyline were better, but this is a fantastic book in that you’re drawn into it from the first chapter—there’s no toughing it out to get to the thick of it. It was a fun, fun read and if you’re looking to lose yourself to the couch for an afternoon, this book is an excellent partner.

And your friends are all going to be talking about it anyway. So read it.

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