Rated Reads

The Girl on the Train

by Paula Hawkins

Rated: High

Rachel takes the commuter train into London every day, and when the train inevitably stops on the tracks for a moment or two near a particular house, she watches the couple who live there. She has imagined names and life details for this seemingly perfect couple. One day, though, she sees something happen that blows apart the stories she has concocted.

“Jason and Jess” really are Scott and Megan, and they happen to live just a few doors down from Rachel’s ex-house and ex-husband, who still lives there with his new wife and baby. And Rachel may be taking the commuter train at 8:04 a.m., but she’s not going in to work. She was fired months before. She’s an alcoholic whose memory has gaping holes, and she can’t let go of her old life.

When Megan goes missing, Rachel insinuates herself into the investigation by offering up the bit of information she knows, though no one wants her help and she may very well be complicating the whole situation.

As this mystery unfolds, readers get mostly Rachel’s point of view, which is alternately sad, annoying and terrifying. Megan’s POV comes into play occasionally, as does the POV of Rachel’s ex-husband’s new wife. Everyone is suspect, memories (and our primary narrator) are unreliable, and motives shift as bits of what may be the truth come together.

The Girl on the Train is a pretty satisfying mystery that makes for a quick, entertaining read.

Rated: High, for around 30 uses of strong language and about the same number of uses of moderate language. There are some sexual references but they are very brief, and sex is “off-screen.” There is some violence, but it’s not very detailed or gory.

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for about 20 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

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  • The Girl on the Train
  • by Paula Hawkins
  • Rated: High
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Reviewer: