Before I Go To Sleep
By S.J. Watson
Harper June 2011
Christine wakes up with no memory of the past twenty-five years. She doesn’t know the man sleeping next to her or where she is. Each morning, her husband Ben has to explain to her who he is and that she has had a terrible accident that resulted in seemingly permanent amnesia. Christine discovers that she has been seeing a doctor behind her husband’s back and keeping a journal to help her remember the details of her life. When her journal and her husband’s story don’t match, she has to discover the truth. But how can you know the truth when you forget everything as soon as you go to sleep?
This was a great read. I was hooked from the beginning when Christine opens her journal to find the words “Don’t Trust Ben.” The whole premise is terrifying. Could you imagine waking up each morning with no memory of the last 25 years? How do you know who is telling you the truth or what the truth is to begin with? Watson shows a great deal of talent in his debut novel. The suspense holds from first page to resolution. I found his reflections on memory and perception to be spot-on as well.
“I feel like I am going mad. Everything is fluid, everything shifts. I think one thing, and then, a moment later, the opposite. I believe everything my husband says, and then I believe nothing. I trust him and then I don’t. Nothing feels real, everything invented. Even myself.
I wish I knew one thing for certain. One single thing that I have not had to be told, about which I do not need to be reminded.”
With many suspense books, I find myself with an unsettled feeling at the end. I enjoy reading them, but often finish them feeling unsatisfied. This was not the case with Before I Go to Sleep. I appreciated that Watson concluded the novel, but not neatly. After all, if this is representative of real life, who knows what could happen the day after the book ends? This is a captivating thriller that you don’t want to miss.