The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Get ready for a tale of gaslighting, alcoholism and murder. Rachel is an alcoholic and she knows it. She rides the train everyday because she lost her job and she’s afraid to tell anyone. Her ex-husband left her for the woman he cheated on her with. They have a baby and live in Rachel’s dream house. Meanwhile, a local woman goes missing. Her name is Megan. She was going to therapy, but dark things in her past always haunted her. Rachel saw Megan one day or was it Anna, her ex-husband’s wife. Are things really the way she remembers them?
Rachel gets drawn into the police investigation. She saw Megan with another man who was not her husband, but who was it? Did Rachel herself hurt Megan? She can’t remember what happened that night. Too much alcohol, as usual. As the story progresses, more clues are revealed. Almost everyone involved has something bad going on and a reason to be upset with Megan, but who actually made Megan disappear?
What I liked
I didn’t figure this book out until a far way into it, which means that Paula did a pretty good job of writing the mystery. I did expect something like the mystery though. It reminded me a lot of the Broadchurch television series.
Nobody in this book was good, in fact, none of the primary characters are what you might call “good people.” There are mental abusers running around. There’s a therapist who isn’t good with boundaries. There’s an alcoholic. There is a murderer. There is a husband stealer. None of these things are qualities that you would like in a person, not even qualifying them for friend status; these are just qualities we don’t want to see in people, period. This aspect of this story lends itself to creating multiple possible suspects with various motives. Not a single one of them really has a good alibi either.
Although it’s a terrible topic, I do like that mental abuse and gaslighting were prominent pieces of this story. It happens a lot and the more we talk about it and recognize it, even in popular novels, the more we can prevent it and recognize it in our own lives or the lives of those we love. I’ve been gaslighted. I’ve been mentally abused and when it happens, you truly see the world through eyes that aren’t your own. It’s difficult to process your personal experiences. It’s powerful stuff. For at least two characters in a book to have reasonable doubt about their personal experience because they’re being mentally abused, adds a whole other dimension of whodunit.
What I didn’t like
Mental abuse and gaslighting are abominations. I cringed when reading about the mental abuse going on in this book. It certainly serves to move the story along and add more dimension to it, but it’s just awful to read.
There were times in the book when I wanted to grab Megan by the shoulders and shake her when she was in therapy. Woman, you are being mentally abused. This isn’t just how your husband is.
It’s hard to be a reliable witness when you can’t see the world properly.
If you have been gaslighted, was there a point when you believed you had done something awful because the gaslighter spun the situation in your head like that?
Is the fact that nobody in this book is a good person something to be praised, or is it an example of how depraved humanity can be?