The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Rachel Watsons might be able to stop obsessing over her ex-husband,–who is now remarried and has a child–if she could stop drinking, stop envying the new wife, and most of all, stop taking the train to London on which, for a moment each day, she sits adjacent to the neighborhood where she and Tom lived.
Rachel now rents a room from a friend, but her life is off-track. Her alcoholism leads to the loss of her job. Rather than take any steps to fix her own life, she imagines a perfect life for a couple that lives four doors down from where she and Tom had lived–from the hosue where Tom has installed his new wife. The new couple are a good-looking pair and seem perfect in all ways. Rachel creates names, a backstory and a life for them; she feels that she knows them intimately.
One day, out of the blue, the woman of the ‘perfect couple’–Megan Hipwell–disappears. Rachel sees in the papers that Megan is missing. Rachel appears to be a suspect when Tom’s new wife, Anna, tells the police that Rachel hangs out–stalking her and the new baby–in the area. Anna saw Rachel there very drunk on the night Megan disappeared. Rachel truly was wasted and can’t remember the details of that night. Or of many nights of her life. Still, she thinks she can help solve the mystery and inserts herself into the lives of not only her ex-husband and his wife, but of the husband of the missing woman.
The novel is narrated by all three women–continually drinken Rachel, who can’t remember anything clearly; narcissistic Anna, who had an affair with Rachel’s husband and happily ‘stole’ him from under her nose; and Megan, whose sad life story is far from the perfection Rachel imagines. Weirdly, we have very little sympathy with any of them, but as the investigation proceeds, we start taking sides.
It wasn’t too hard to figure out who the murderer was; nevertheless, this is a psychological thriller that ends on a crazy note (‘going off the rails on a crazy train’). This stew of unreliable narrators and self-centered characters leads to a hair-raising conclusion that will leave you breathless.
High school housekeeping: The Girl on the Train is a good entry for teens into psychological thrillers/murder mysteries. It’s not a tough read, and it’s not very long. Though the story moves back and forth among three narrators, they are distinct and easy to recognize. It will keep you interested in the investigation, and you’ll be stunned by the ending. Give it a try if you’re ready to move up from YA mysteries.