Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Review: Before I Go To Sleep
a copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher through TLC Book Tours
Imagine waking up and having no memory of the previous day. Now imagine waking up every morning, unable to remember the previous day or week or twenty years. That is the intriguing premise of S.J. Watson's psychological thriller Before I Go To Sleep.
Christine Lucas has suffered a traumatic head injury and this is her life: each morning she wakes up next to a strange man who tells her he is her husband. Each morning he shows her a scrapbook and tells her about her life. But Christine is secretly seeing a doctor who aks her to keep a journal. It is these journal entries that tell the story of Christine's struggle to form an identity out of scraps of memory and stories told to her by her husband. She has some photographs, a scrapbook, and the journal, which she discovers each morning as if for the first time.
Before I Go To Sleep succeeds as a psychological thriller-it is suspenseful and creepy, and you'll want to keep turning those pages. It also succeeds as a meditation on the nature of memory and self; it is painful to see Christine try to piece together her own life, try to access memories, not knowing if they are memory or fantasy.
Christine's secret meetings with her doctor, her secret journal entries, begin to reveal cracks in the stories her husband Ben has been telling her. Totally dependent on Ben even for her sense of self, her history, her survival, Christine secretly works at rebuilding her memory. Through the journal entries, the reader sees a woman beginning to build a picture of her own life, her own personality. And the reader begins to sense that there is something important that Ben has been hiding from Christine.
I read Before I Go To Sleep in one sitting-it's that kind of book. It holds you in it's grip until the last page. The narrative builds to a kind of dreadful pitch, and S.J. Watson knows exactly when to tighten the screws. My only quibble with this book is a slightly too tidy ending. Some readers may feel that loose ends are a little too neatly tied. This almost seems beside the point-because Watson delivers what the reader craves, and exciting read. Before I Go To Sleep is a perfect summer read, suspenseful, chilling, with plenty of twists and turns. I appreciated the intelligence of the main character, the painful predicament in which she found herself, and her brave attempt to find her way out through writing.
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