Note to reader: Do not read two books about trains one after the other, confusion/character displacement will occur
I was recently introduced to the idea that time itself is always chasing us. Like the famous crocodile in Peter Pan, our lives are always echoing the continuous tick and tock of what is to come and what has already happened. It was after reading these two novels that I found this idea once again relevant.
“The Girl On the Train” left me at many times feeling hungover, not only due to the fast paced narrative, which I indeed appreciated and connected to the title, but also due to one of the narrator’s inseparable connection to the bottle. There was something quite compelling and easily relatable about a female drunk in love. No, I am not referencing the Queen B herself, but instead the idea of escaping emotional pain and yet at the same time trapping yourself in it. The relentless guessing games I was left to solve, the murders I was not sure were wine induced hallucinations or clear conscious revelations, and the female drama packed characters left my hands glued to the rhythmic turning of the pages. I was taken away instantly, or should I say swept away (get it, like on a train). Furthermore, I believe this book deep down allows all of us to relate to the lead female narrative, stuck for a time in the past she so desperately wishes to return to; however, like most good things in our life, we are only aware of their brilliance when they are gone. So fellow readers, hop aboard, and please, for the sake of your sanity and stomach, remain sober when reading.
“Orphan Train,” yet another novel with the famous locomotive in it’s title, was one that I thought from the beginning I could predict its ending. As an avid reader we often are familiar to the common themes and plot lines most authors present before us, allowing us to be brilliant, yet annoying TV watchers, especially when having to do with criminal law, the endings are oh so predictable. I was drawn first to this book because I was told by a friend that it was based on true events, something that sounded to me as coming straight out of American Horror Story. To my surprise, this book ended up reminding me of another novel I had recently read in which the current, much younger narrative, connects with someone from the past in order to realize something in their own lives, whether it be a personal calling, journey, or answers to life questions. To return back to “Orphan Train,” I left captured by the life long message we often hear that is is never too late. The trains may come and go, but ultimately there will be more, more chances, more passengers, and maybe even more time. In comparison with “The Girl on the Train,” this novel relates less to the midlife crisis and more to the callings of the heart we often suppress. It is a story I would give to an elderly lady sitting on a park bench or my mother to read in her book club, ironically I do believe she read it in her book club. Not to say “The Girl on The Train” is too raunchy or perverted, it is a book that is devoured, drank, and sucked dry, leaving only the pages and one’s interpretation left. It is a simple train ride to and from a location.
Will these books be added to my top 10, most likely not; however, I will not lie and say I forced myself to read these two novels. I stayed up past 2 am finishing both of them on separate occasions, so yes, they were quite enjoyable. So as Kline stated in her novel: “You got to learn to take what people are willing to give,” whether in terms of my reviews, or relating to life in general, it reminds us that we are only in control of our own time.