The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins is a thriller recommended by people who enjoyed Gone Girl.
Rachel is an unemployed alcoholic who enjoys imagining the perfect life of “Jess and Jason”, a couple who lives in her old neighbourhood. Everyday on her train commute, she watches them and catches glimpses into their lives. One day, “Jess” (her real name is Megan) goes missing and Rachel chooses to get involved in the police investigation. Throw in Megan’s husband, Rachel’s ex-husband, Tom, and his new wife, Anna, and we have a murder case being investigated by a drunkard.
The disappearance of Megan is very similar to Gone Girl‘s plot, so I couldn’t help but compare the two books while I was reading it. Although it wasn’t as thrilling as Gone Girl, I enjoyed the shared theme of unreliable narrators- it puts everything into such a twist. I was surprised near the end, but it took much longer to build up to the climax. This is mostly due to Rachel’s constant drinking and hazy memories.
The most interesting thing that came up in this novel was the pure cattiness between women (Rachel and Anna), and the role of the man (Tom).
Rachel and Anna have beef with each other. Here’s what happened: after having failed pregnancies, Rachel gets depressed and turns to alcohol. Tom cheats on Rachel with Anna and eventually, Rachel is kicked out of the house. Anna moves in and she and Tom have a baby together.
Please do not tell me that I am the only one who thinks Tom is an asshole. Not only does he cheat on Rachel, he makes Anna moves into the house he and Rachel lives in. But because of crazy women logic, Rachel still misses Tom and hates Anna for stealing him. Anna hates Rachel back because Rachel has a habit of harassing her and her baby after being intoxicated. Throughout the entire book, there are so many scenes of arguments and fights between Rachel and Anna. What I really don’t understand is why Tom is the peacemaker. If anything, he is the asshole who instigated this whole mess. Rachel and Anna should both be pissed off at Tom, not fight over him.
I don’t understand why Rachel and Anna cannot step back and take a look at the bigger picture. They shouldn’t judge each other and instead, they should both leave Tom’s sorry ass for screwing them over. Even though Anna is also at fault for the affair, at least she was single. Tom holds much more responsibility to his wife, Rachel, than Anna does.
So why doesn’t this happen? Why don’t Rachel and Anna understand each other? Why does Tom get away with everything and still lives in his house happily with a new wife and daughter? Why does nobody hate Tom after all this?
Because Rachel and Anna are too busy comparing themselves to each other.
Being the other woman is a huge turn-on, there’s no point denying it: you’re the one he can’t help but betray his wife for, even though he loves her. That’s just how irresistible you are.
What does it feel like, Anna, to live in my house, surrounded by the furniture I bought, to sleep in the bed that I shared with him for years, to feed your child at the kitchen table he fucked me on?
Too often I find girls being too competitive with each other. Whether it is due to insecurities or jealousy, there is often an invisible tension when girl friends gather. You have to hate who someone else hates, you have to look nice but not too nice, you have to have your own opinion but it can’t digress too much from everybody else’s. Follow the unspoken rules or feel the wrath of passive aggressiveness coated in fake smiles.
All I do at school is watch all the girls pretend to be friends with each other
— Sarcasm (@TheFunnyTeens) May 29, 2015
I believe the root cause of this never ending rivalry in girls is a lack of self love. When you are so afraid of other people becoming happier or prettier than you, it is a lack of self love that deters you from being happy for others and ultimately, yourself. It is much easier to label the other person as a “show-off” or a “slut” than to admit that you are jealous or bitter.
Be happy with who you are without having to put others down. Be insecure but learn to stop it from ruining your relationships with others. Stick to your morals and don’t be swayed by someone who doesn’t share the same values as you. Don’t let an asshole (man or woman) make you hurt someone who has been hurt the same way you have been.
I don’t know how many times Ellen Degeneres has to say this for it to actually compute into people’s minds: be kind to each other.
But don’t forget to be kind to your self too.
In no time at all, I find myself crying again. It’s impossible to resist the kindness of strangers. Someone who looks at you, who doesn’t know you, who tells you it’s OK, whatever you did, whatever you’ve done: you suffered, you hurt, you deserve forgiveness.