Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson
Publication date: 14 June 2011 by Harper
Category: Adult Mystery/Thriller
Keywords: Mystery, thriller, suspense, amnesia, memory
Format: Hardcover, paperback, eBook
'As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I'm still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me ...' Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love - all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story. Welcome to Christine's life.
You know that disorienting feeling you get sometimes when you take a nap for too long? You wake up a little bleary eyed and confused, wondering where you are or what time it is. But then you recognize your house and remember that you decided to take a nap. Well what if, when you woke up, couldn’t remember where you were or how you got there? And the face when you looked in the mirror wasn’t what you thought you looked like? Scary, right? Well this is what life is like for Christine Lucas, the main character of Before I Go To Sleep. Each night she goes to bed knowing that, when she wakes, she will not remember her life.
The book begins when Christine wakes up in an unfamiliar room next to a man she doesn’t recognize. She goes into the bathroom only to see a face in the mirror that looks twenty years older than how old she believes she is. She has no memories of her husband or her life before that morning and she learns that when she goes to bed, she will lose whatever little progress she has made for the day. Suspicions arise when Christine finds out that her husband hadn’t been telling her the truth. But has he been doing it for spare her the grief or for some other sinister purpose? And can she trust the doctor she’s seeing or does he have his own plans for?
This was a totally gripping story that had me holding my breath from one page to the next. Taut and suspenseful, Watson does a great job of putting us inside Christine’s head. I felt Christine’s frustration, grief, anger and fear as she tries to piece together her life each day. The journal entries really drew me into Christine’s world and I wanted to know about her past just as much as she did.
The journal entries were a little repetitive at times but I could see why it set up that way, since we were seeing things through Christine’s unique perspective. Things take a decidedly creepy turn once Christine realizes that what she’s writing down and what she is being told aren’t adding up. I was trying to read as fast as possible near the end of the book. If I was a nail biter, my nails would have been bitten down to the quick. The ending has the inevitable twist, though it was one that I hadn’t predicted. Things wrapped up a little too nicely and conveniently at the end, which lessened the believability of it all, but it was still a very exciting and nerve wracking ending.
Before I Go To Sleep makes us ask the question - who are we without our memories? It’s not something I’ve ever wanted to think about before and the answer is frightening. Creepy, intense, and original, Before I Go To Sleep an emotional thriller that you won’t be able to put down. Recommended for fans of the film Memento and dark, psychological thrillers.