“Sometimes I catch myself trying to remember the last time I had meaningful physical contact with another person, just a hug or a heartfelt squeeze of my hand, and my heart twitches.” Rachel, The Girl on the Train.
I don’t usually jump on the bandwagon (or in this case train) when it comes to reading books that are currently popular through cinema. I usually wait, out of snobbish stubbornness so that I can enjoy the text at a later date, without the cool kids telling me it was a hit or miss. But for some reason I couldn’t do that with this novel. I had gone to the cinema (on a delightful girls night out with my sisters) and we let ourselves be swallowed by the twists and turns of The Girl on the Train, a clever psychological thriller directed by Tate Taylor. I’m a big fan of Emily Blunt’s acting and I felt she portrayed the unstable, unraveling woman of society perfectly. Some of us, know what it’s like to have silent eyes judging you as you try to find your way in life. We know how it feels to have people look away or pity the shadowed versions of ourselves. The ones that crack easily. That had something. Then lost something. A part of themselves perhaps. Or maybe all of it.
So…intrigued by the movie, I decided to give this bestselling novel (by Paula Hawkins) a chance to thrill me. I was eager to see what the movie left out, how it interpreted and portrayed those interesting characters that flitted across the movie screen. I wanted my imagination to be seduced and exposed. As the novel began to set the scene and led us into the head of each character, I felt anxious. It wasn’t just the nervousness or despair of the characters, it was the slow build up…the details…that gnawing feeling you get when things are overwhelming in the face of normality.It was that feeling of how you can be drowning on dry air and no one has a clue.
Despite knowing the plot and the outcome I was sucked back into the story, and I wonder if I’m ever going to leave that place. Those of you who read Of Tales & Dreams know that I never indulge too much in plots. I despise spilling the contents of the books I review. I just give you my impressions and wait for you to share your own personal thoughts. I definitely recommend this intense piece of work. It may feel like the words are choking you, sometimes spreading you across dead leaves and sharp twigs…it may feel indulgent or lacking in reason and control. To some, it may even seem unbelievably melodramatic and unnecessary. Hell, there were points were I wanted to bring Wonder Woman running into the story to slap some sense and strength into each female character. But that’s when you have to think. Strength is an evolutionary process. It is made from all the broken and failed bits of ourselves. The book makes you think. Not only of yourself, but of the people you see every day. The ones with stories carved by blades. People are books walking around. Some narratives get lost in queues as people make their way to work. Some get beaten out of you. Some find sunlight and the spiders scatter away from fear.
If you were to open a journal right now and write, what moments from your life would surface? Which characters from your memory would suddenly be pumped with life and find themselves playing in your movie? Writing your story, whether your life has been tumultuous or relatively sane, is important. It can help you make peace with the holes in your past or it can give you tiny clues to alter your present and future. If reading the Girl on the Train teaches you anything, it will make you aware that change is waiting around every bend; in the morning when you’re taking that first sip of coffee, or at night when you turn to your lover, child or friend.
Pick up your pen. Open your laptop. Play with that change rushing through your body and let your words spill out.