I've read two really great books lately, so I've decided to share about both of them for your to be read lists. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, published in January, and Finding Jake by Bryan Reardon, published in February, are full of suspense and will keep you guessing until the very end. Both stories keep moving back and forth, either between characters or time periods, to give the reader multiple perspectives and give glimpses of the complete story. They also provide shock and awe with a wide variety of emotions. Prepare to spend a long amount of uninterrupted time for reading because neither book will not leave your hands until the end.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins has three main characters whose stories are all connected. The main character, Rachel, tells most of the story. Her life is on a rapid downward spiral and she wants to find her purpose in the world. She still commutes daily on the train to a job she no longer has just to pretend that she can still function in the world. On one of the stops, she starts to see the same people day after day. I’m sure we've all done it – see the same people through work or just passing by, or maybe it’s just a onetime thing, but we imagine these different people and give a life to them to forget about our own for a brief moment. Rachel starts to do this and creates this elaborate back story for the perfect couple she observes. Next the story introduces Anna and Megan. They begin to tell us about their own lives and about their local neighborhood. Soon they all realize how they fit into each others' lives and who can be trusted.
To make this story even better, there is disappearance of a local woman and everyone becomes a suspect. People turn against each other in order to prove their own innocence. I am reminded that “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return.”* This seems all fine and dandy, but these three women get more than just love. There’s a missing person, drunken blackouts, liars, cheaters, and strangers laced throughout their lives and the goal is to just figure out what happened on a Saturday night.
Finding Jake by Bryan Reardon tells the exact story described in the title. Jake is missing and his father is desperately trying to find him. This suspenseful book is a bit darker and more disturbing because it’s centered on something that happens in our society more often than we want. There has been a school shooting with multiple fatalities and Jake goes from “Missing” to “Suspect and Accomplice.” People draw their own conclusions based on reports that Jake has become responsible for this tragedy, therefore his own family is to blame because he’s not part of “the popular crowd” and hangs out with just a few close friends.
Jake’s father looks back on his life as a stay-at-home dad trying to raise two kids while his wife climbs the corporate ladder at her law firm. He recalls events that have formed Jake’s life and if he became the person that his dad thinks he is, or if he became the person that the rest of the world believes he is. All of these thoughts are weighing down the family and the news and media outlets are bombarding them with questions instead of focusing on the main goal. Again, we all just want to love and be loved in return. Yet sometimes love just isn't enough to get the answers to the most important question of all - Where is Jake?
Both of these novels provide confusion with plot twists and anticipation for what will happen next. They also give a unique perspective on family dynamics because of the differences in the two stories. Sometimes not everything comes out the way we want it to, but we just have to keep living (and reading) to see whatever happens next.
*eden abhez, by way of “Moulin Rouge”