People aren't always as they seem: The Girl on the Train Book Review

It seems that I can read books faster than I can write reviews about them. I just finished book number eight for the summer. Hooray! Yet here I am typing up my thoughts for book number three. Hopefully I'll start to get in a rhyme where I can spend more time writing about what I read. 


Everyday is the same for Rachel. Each morning she goes through the motions of heading off to work to elude her roommate from the truth. Instead, she spends her day staring out the window of the commuter train as flashes of suburban homes pass by. She eagerly awaits the signal stop where she watches the same couple eat breakfast on their balcony each morning. She begins to believe she knows everything about them. Until today. She sees something that she shouldn’t and now everything has changed for Rachel. Soon she is deeply entangled in a police investigation where she struggles to remember what happened the night the girl from the balcony disappeared.

Told from the perspective of an extravagant alcoholic, readers start to piece together Rachel’s story as the murky clouds of drunkenness slowly begin to disappear from her mind and she is able to replay her life through sober eyes. The Girl on the Train is a thrilling and compulsive read that will forever change the way you look at people. I wish I could say that the novel kept me at the edge of my seat the entire time, but then I’d be lying. About half-way through I figured out the ending and soon lost my intense interest in finishing it. What I appreciated most about Hawkins’s story is the way she addresses society's fascination with other people’s lives.


People aren’t always as they seem. Our society focuses on the idea that every minute of our lives needs to be documented and recorded for the world to see, but no one really knows what’s behind the camera. We start to see photos of people we know and we question them. Is that a real smile? Are they truly happy together? How is their life so much better than mine? The only life we see is the one in the camera. When we finally find out what’s behind the lens our perspective changes.

We are quick to covet the lives of others based on snapshots that glorify the better parts of their life. We are quick to judge other by the pretenses we create by watching them from afar. We struggle to find our own happiness because we compare our everyday moments to the picture perfect photographs we like on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest. Like Rachel, we find ourselves staring out the window at a life we wish was our own. We must learn that there is more to life than the pictures we create.  


What are your thoughts on The Girl on the Train? Do you ever find yourself fantasizing about the life of someone else around you?