Digesting the Plight of an Emotionally Tortured Woman…A Review of “The Girl on the Train”


So, we all have secrets. You’re lying if you say you don’t. Most of the time we bury them deep inside ourselves, never telling a single soul…hoping, eventually…that they’ll die off. But secrets don’t die. They lie in wait. The truth always finds a way out.

For many, carrying the burden of our truths can be as simple as brushing our teeth everyday, but for others…it’s a goddamn nightmare. That’s the epitome of this story. Sometimes holding in your secrets is not only torturous, but sometimes can be deadly.

Paula Hawkins invites us to witness the tales of three women entangled in an unpredictable, twisted web of love, pain, and recovery. Most of the time, the situations that occur are tough to stomach. I think half of the time, I found myself cringing at the poor decision-making these three made, Rachel especially. She was the worst. But as the story progresses you begin to see more of who these women truly are, and how their personal truths have a significant impact to who they have become. It’s a wild ride that keeps you guessing from beginning to end. If I say so myself, I’m pretty awesome at solving mysteries, but this one had me dumbfounded.

I’m going to try very very hard not to spoil the book because I REALLY HATE spoilers. I won’t talk about the plot, instead, I’ll discuss how Hawkins uses the “tortured woman” to shed light on the woman’s dilemma.

They say women keep many secrets, secrets that she hides for the sake of family…friends…lovers. The strongest of these women know how to hide them without missing a beat. But when a secret is just too big to hide, it wears you down, makes you suffer. Hawkins’ story represents those women, the tortured ones with secrets too big to bury. And in order to manage, they turn to recklessness; the only way to make the pain disappear. All the while, shutting the most important people in their lives out, just to deal with it alone. It’s funny how the men in their lives either have no clue, or just ignore their pain. Forcing them to keep treading on their own. As a woman, you’re expected to keep up a fight because you’re supposed to be a mother, a wife, a business woman. You can’t be seen as weak.

In the beginning, I called these women weak. I called them “dumb bitches”. I laughed at them. I became part of their problem. It’s easy to criticize when you don’t know the full story and can’t see things for how they truly are. I think that is the biggest lesson I learned from Hawkins. Everything isn’t always what it seems. As I learned more about their plight, I realized I was the one in the wrong. I was actually a “bitch”, and they deserved better.

Now don’t get me wrong, some of things that they decide to do is COMPLETELY crazy, and I was sitting there SMH to how things ended up. But at some point in the story, there was a moment of understanding where I questioned, “If it was me dealing with this, would I have done the same?” And I ended up saying, “Possibly.” Honestly, I’m not sure what I would have done. My support system is pretty sound. I have an amazing set of friends and family that insure my sanity, and a lover who keeps me emotionally grounded. Something many of these women lacked.

It’s funny how, as women, many of us can get so entangled with our emotions that the lines between reality and fantasy become blurred. I think “love”, especially, throws things off balance because it can be so erratic and difficult to comprehend. That struggle between the heart and brain is soo real…makes you feel like you’re going crazy. I’ve been there. It ain’t fun. Love can seriously blind you from the truth, and your emotions help hide what’s real.

But you can’t go numb. You shouldn’t blot out the rush of emotions. It’s what keeps us human, and sometimes it’s what helps keep us sane. The balance is what’s important, and the only way to do that is to have that emotional outlet to share our burdens with. Whether therapy or friends or family, dammit, you need someone who can help you get through that ish. Have your good, ugly, cry and work through to recovery.

What I loved about the book is that it isn’t just a story about love, heartbreak, and betrayal, but it’s also a story with real painful situations…situations that are certainly hard to digest and tough to come back from. As much as I hated Rachel, by the end of the story, she was the real heroine. She worked through all of her “crazy” to come out on top. Although, I don’t really feel like she “won”, I do feel like she overcame, and most importantly, fought her demons to do so. I ended the book feeling like no matter what you go through, you can always find a way back to peace, if you try.

I know I didn’t say much about the story, but it’s just too good to ruin. Make sure that if you plan to do some winter reading, that you add “The Girl on the Train” to your list. It’s definitely one you won’t be able to put down. And then after reading it, make sure to hug one of your closest sister-friends, and when they ask you, “Why?” Tell them, “Because I love you, and I’ll always be there when you cry.”

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