2018 Reading List: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Why would you want to live in a town where women keep (allegedly) drowning themselves?

That’s the first thought I had as the story behind Into the Water by Paula Hawkins unfolded.

This book is a murder mystery by the same author of The Girl on the Train. A woman is found dead in what is known as the “Drowning Pool” – a section of river surrounded by cliffs where the water is calmer. There is a history behind the Drowning Pool. Women have been committing suicide here by throwing themselves off the cliff (hence the name) for years.

But wait – were they all suicides? Is Nel’s death now a suicide or something more sinister? Nel wouldn’t kill herself, right? 

Nel’s estranged sister, Julia, has come back to the town to look after Nel’s 15-year-old daughter and maybe find some answers. Just wait till the plot thickens.

I liked this book, but it was a little bit difficult to get into. It was one of those mysteries where in the beginning, you’re sort of spiraling around, but the circles of the spiral are so far apart that you can’t really see any connections yet. Slowly the spiral starts to close in, getting tighter and tighter and you start to put the pieces together, connect the dots.

There were a lot of characters in this book that didn’t seem to be related at first. There was a lot of jumping around between history and present day and even the writings of Nel herself, which may have been completely made up, but may have had some truth to them. There were so many hidden connections between each of the characters that at first it was impossible to tell which relationships were going to turn out to be meaningful.

Spoiler Alert: 

The most surprising part of the book to me was the fact that this all seemingly started with Lena’s friend and her secret sexual relationship with her teacher. The fact that this young girl killed herself to protect her teacher and “hide the evidence” as they say, seemed too far-fetched to me. I don’t care what kind of love-struck teenage angst you carry, you don’t kill yourself over it unless there are other serious mental issues going on as well.

Not to mention the fact that Julia decided not to talk to her sister for the rest of her life because of a misunderstanding. Essentially. Really though, Julia was raped by her sister’s boyfriend (which is completely horrible and terrible), but the misunderstanding came when her sister asked if she liked it – referring to something else. Julia never confronted her about it, never asked her what she meant, never brought it up again, and then just left town, never to speak to her sister again. What kind of sister does that? Either of them, really.

And lastly, Lena’s messed up way of dealing with first  her friend’s death, then her mother’s was really unbelievable. You’d think that Lena was adopted. Her friend kills herself and Lena knows why but doesn’t tell anyone. She keeps the secret even though she is questioned and her friend’s family is going crazy. And then it spirals into her mother getting killed and Lena seemed unperturbed. She isn’t shocked or sad or angry. In spare moments alone, she seems to break down a little bit, but her outward reaction seems blase.

I will say, with all of the mysterious character backgrounds and weird connections and relationships, this is certainly a drama to keep you up at night.

I will also say that The Girl on the Train was better. In my opinion.

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