The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Original review from 2015:

I don't remember what compelled me to pull this audiobook off of the shelf at the local library. Was it a stray recommendation? Something about the title? No matter how I try to remember, all I can come up with is a blank space. It's frustrating, yet oddly appropriate for this book's forgetful protagonist.

Rachel has been depressed ever since the breakdown of her marriage to Tom and one of her coping mechanisms is to obsess over the couple she watches from the train each day during her commute. They look so perfect and happy - like she once was - and she invents an entire life for these two. Then, one day, she sees something alarming in their backyard and Rachel decides to stop just being the girl on the train and insert herself into their lives. The next morning, Rachel wakes up in agony and no memory of the night before. Things get even worse when she learns that the woman from the couple (Meghan) has gone missing.

The mystery is told piece by piece through the rotating viewpoints of Rachel, Meghan, and Anna, Tom's new wife. Hawkins is an expert at providing just enough of the picture to lull the reader into thinking they know what's going on and then revealing something that changes everything. I changed my stance on each character numerous times throughout the story. Although I did pick out the culprit fairly early on, the changing perspectives and other reveals kept me interested until the end.

In print form it might be difficult to keep the three first person narrators straight, but the audiobook has three talented actresses who turn in excellent performances. The timeline was a bit confusing for the first part of the book since Hawkins jumps around in time and Rachel is an unreliable narrator, but once I got settled into the story, it wasn't difficult. My only real complaint is that Meghan's perspective gives away far too much. Hawkins tries to compensate by having Meghan not name everyone she is thinking about, but not only is it unrealistic that she would think in code, but it's not any less obvious whom she means.

If you like a fast paced mystery and don't mind a cast of despicable characters, then pick this one up.


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