I’m behind a few book reviews so I’ll try to catch up this week. I read The Girl on the Train a few weeks ago. I’m a voracious reader and with that said, I tend to pick books in a variety of genres by all kinds of authors. I guess you could say, I’m an equal opportunity reader.
I also tend to read books occasionally from the bestseller list. There are many lists, New York Times Best Seller List, USA Today, Amazon Best Sellers, take your pick. This book ranks near the top of them all currently and I have to ask myself as a writer, what elements of a book make it a bestseller?
I mean, I read The Goldfinch… I don’t get it. The Goldfinch won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction last year. That astounds me. It was certainly a thick novel, I’ll give it that. It was repetitive and descriptive in ways that made me put it down and regret my reading time.
I don’t do bad reviews however. If I can’t say something nice about a book, I don’t say anything at all. That’s just my method to the madness, you don’t have to follow suit.
The Girl on the Train, isn’t The Goldfinch. I looked forward to reading it. I wanted to finish it. I admired how the author wove certain elements into her story, but it did remind me of The Goldfinch in the shock and awe category. The shocking alcohol abuse ad nauseum. I know it’s harsh, but it’s an element running through those books at the top. It’s like the publishers got together and decided that was the topic to promote. Adults at their worst selves ever. Flawed, drunken, strung-out individuals….yes, those are the ones we want to exploit this year. We don’t see enough of the harsh side of life? Really?
I’ve got say, I think we do. Reading is supposed to be an escape from reality and if you’re lucky you come away from it a better person than you were before you picked up that book.
So am I recommending The Girl on the Train which has some elements of The Goldfinch within? Yes, I am… Besides the shock and awe factor, it is a good story. It’s very well written. Maybe it’s me but I guessed the ending. (My family gets annoyed that I do that when we partake in a new movie. “He’s the killer!” Yes, it drives them crazy.)
Here’s the description: Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.”
I can see the “Hitchcokian thriller” bit. I would agree with that. It’s a story about sorrow, murder and betrayal at it’s deepest level.
There are lives like this…I remind myself. I’ve seen them in time, like slinking shadows kept upright in dark places. I keep myself away from them for a reason. Their torment is self-imposed but it’s a prison they cannot afford to escape from. They already own the label. It would be too much work to change…
If you’re looking for a book of gritty human agony, read The Girl on the Train. Did I come away from it’s pages a better person? No…I came away with a reminder of what I’ve seen in the past. Something, not worth remembering.