Thursday, June 1, 2017

BJHJ: THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN(wreck that is her life)

It's time for another installment of Book Jacket Hack Job where we provide our own take on the book jacket copy from some of our recent (or not so recent) reads.

Today I'm taking a stab at THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN. (Get it? "Stab" at? Ha.) Disclaimer: I read this book, and found it really disturbing. Not for the plot -- which I expected to be unsettling based on the whole psychological thriller tagline -- but because all of the characters were such a...train wreck.

I'm on a roll here with the innuendos, yes? The book is still insanely popular and ICYMI somehow is also a film with Emily Blunt and Justin Theroux. I haven't seen the film, although I will say that commuting from NYC to Westchester a la the setting of the film is VERY different from commuting into London and it makes me wonder how true to the book the film really is. (That's not why I haven't seen it. I haven't seen the movie because I hate creepy movies.)

Anyway, without further ado...

Rachel takes the same commuter train morning and night. Often she is drunk, thinking about being drunk or planning on getting drunk. Sometimes she blames this on her ex-husband who had an affair and left her and sometimes she blames it on herself. She is full of self-loathing and wishes she could change. Her friends and family also wish she could change, but despite the self-loathing bit, she's not ready/willing/able. The portrayal of her addiction feels very genuine. And sad. Made sadder by the fact that she fixates on a couple she sees from the train window every morning (who live two doors down from the house she once shared with her husband. Coincidence? I think not.). She makes up an entire life for them that may or may not be real.

Then one day, Rachel sees something disturbing through the train window and goes to the police. She becomes embroiled in the investigation, but she's an unreliable witness and lines between what's real and not become so blurred, no one knows what to believe. Including Rachel, herself.

A GIRL ON THE TRAIN is a psychological thriller and a study in dysfunctional relationships. The characters are seldom sympathetic, but they are compelling, which keeps you turning the pages long after you should've gone to bed. When you close the book on the final page, you have the satisfaction of being able to say, "God, I am SO normal by comparison." Hopefully.


Unknown said...

I was flying on Thursday (in a plane, not on my broomstick or whatever) and I saw this book at the airport and was like, dammit! How have I not read this yet!? And now I've been thinking about it ever since. But perhaps it was really just a divine reminder to read your post!

Carrie Beckort said...

I read this and watched the movie version. I'll agree with you - the characters were all train wrecks! You summed it up nicely here. Although, as a whole I did enjoy the story. If I'm remembering correctly, the film stayed pretty true to the book at least in plot.

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