Sunday, August 9, 2015
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
If you like: an unreliable narrator * multiple POV * dreams
The Girl on the Train is the story of Rachel and her observations from the train. Each day Rachel travels by her old home and catches glimpses of the life her ex-husband, his new wife, and baby. She also observes the lives of another couple, who live in her favorite house just down the street. She lets the whims of her imagination comfort her, imagining the perfect life of the couple. Her illusion is shattered when Megan goes missing, and Rachel realizes she is a witness and a part of Megan’s disappearance. Rachel is an alcoholic, which makes it difficult for the police to trust her word. Her obsession with her ex, and her own blackouts leave her wondering just how much she knows.
Rachel’s life is a daily struggle. She has lost nearly everything. After she and her ex, Tom, were unable to conceive a child, she began to lose her grasp of sobriety. No longer a social drinker, she began to push herself to the point of forgetting. Eventually, the strain became too much, and Tom left her for his mistress. Renting a room from a college friend and commuting along the train left Rachel with a lot of time for contemplation, which lead her to more time drinking. Soon she had not only lost her husband, but also her job. As she continued to the charade of commuting to work as to not alarm her roommate, Rachel began to lose herself even more. She never meant to go so far, but at a certain point it was easier to give up on ever being herself again than face all the damage she was surrounded by. She began spending her life trying to forget, rather than trying to find something worth remembering.
Memory can be untrustworthy even in the best circumstances, and laughable at the worst. Sometimes, no matter how much we want to forget, the truth is so ingrained in us we cannot escape it. No matter how deep it is buried in our minds, it nags us, whispers to us, and seeks to be revealed. Rachel has spent so much time forgetting that it is difficult for her to remember. She has trained herself to forget her actions because it is easier than facing reality. As time goes by, she realizes that maybe she isn’t trying to forget for the reasons she thinks. Blacking out can be a way of lying to herself. When the truth is far too painful, people do so much to themselves to cope. After ingraining these habits of obstruction for so long, Rachel is barely familiar with the way to seek the truth. So many of us misremember certain things; whether we remember ourselves in a favorable or unfavorable light, so much of our memory is tainted by the way we view the world. When a process becomes so habitual, it is much easier to repeat than to shake. This makes remembering the important things all the more difficult. We all want to believe in something. It is easier to believe the lie than to face the truth.
If you just can’t believe what you saw, read The Girl on the Train.
Hawkins, Paula. The Girl on the Train: A Novel. Penguin Publishing Group, 2015. Kindle edition.