Emptiness and The Girl on the Train (Book Review)

Trains

As a child, I would see trains—lots of trains. My home, situated adjacent to the tracks was a prime spot for train watching. How exciting… Rather they were a nuisance. Another toot toot chugga chugga to wake me up in the night. Another freight train with some unusual, poorly done, graffiti. The trains, to say the least, were quite unamusing. On the other hand, trains aren’t always so dull; trains have often been found in the center of thrilling stories. My personal favorites are the train robberies found in old westerns. People falling off horses, dying… more dying… more dying. Bridges exploding, trains stopping just in the nick of time. Hollywood surprisingly uses trains as props in exhilarating tales of excitement. The Girl on the Train, in the same way, takes a train and uses it to create an astounding, and unique story. Although, a fairly easy read on the surface, the themes and characters found within weave together to create an intricate masterpiece.

Paula Hawkins utilizes three narrators in The Girl on the Train: Rachael, Megan, and Anna. Some might say that the continuous change in point of view makes the story choppy, but it is my personal opinion that it makes the characters more relatable which, I will talk about later.

Commuting

Rachael, the protagonist, or rather, “the girl on the train” of the story, travels by train daily from Ashbury to London. On this boring daily commute, she observes various people. Yet there are two in particular that she finds interest in: a husband and wife who live by the tracks. Every day as she passes their house she fantasizes about their seemingly perfect life. Rachael, recently divorced and jobless, uses her commute to trick her roommate, or maybe herself, into believing that life is normal. As it turns out the woman she is observing is Megan. The plot drags for a while, but suffice to say, it picks up with the disappearance of Megan. I would tell you more but that would ruin the story…

So, as you might know, this book was one of the best sellers of 2015. What about this story made people rave about this book? Simply put, I believe people relate to the characters.

Hollowness

Hollowness is something I understand. I’m starting to believe that there isn’t anything you can do to fix it. That’s what I’ve taken from the therapy sessions: the holes in your life are permanent.

All the characters in this story are experiencing emptiness. They try various activities to find joy but most of these end sorely. Many people today relate to the empty lives of Rachael and Megan.  But they also long for the thrilling mystery that is found in the Girl on the Train. The Bible makes it beautifully clear that the Gospel is the only true solution to this emptiness.

I really want to recommend this book. However, it has some content that is rather mature in nature and would not be edifying for all to read. Nevertheless, for the person that does decide to read this, please consider this as you read: What about this story and its characters makes it so appealing to people of our generation? For if you can answer that question, you will get a small glimpse into the minds of modern man and how we can reach them with the only true hope.

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