Everyday Christine wakes up to remember nothing of her adult life. She wakes up with a strange man in her bed who is actually her husband. She wakes up in a room she does not recognize. She has to learn each day who she is.
Christine is also seeing a doctor, Dr. Ed Nash. He has convinced Christine to start keeping a journal each day. And then each day he calls to remind Christine of her journal, so she can reread the previous days and write in the present. Little by little, the journal helps Christine to know who she is and to uncover the secrets she has buried deep in her subconscious mind.
BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP is an extraordinary debut novel. Told from the perspective of Christine, mostly through the pages of her journal, the reader stays as much in the dark as the narrator. Just as Christine relies on her husband Ben and her doctor to know herself, we rely on the scribblings in her journal to know who she is. This creates a great sense of suspense and to some level, anxiety. While Christine is afraid to go to bed at night because she will once again forget who she is, we are afraid to close the pages of the book not knowing what is coming next.
That sense of not knowing what comes next also contributes to the reader being able to empathize with Christine. Most of us reading this book have never had to deal with no recollection of our adult selves. How can we empathize with a situation so foreign? By experiencing it, in a sense, through the story structure. Watson does an exemplary job of depicting Christine's experiences and emotions as she would feel them as opposed to how an outsider would observe her experiencing them.
And overall the story looks at the theme, "What are we, if not an accumulation of our memories?" What kind of an existence does a person have if everyday he/she wakes up with a blank slate?
My only disappointment of BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP came in the conclusion. It was not a bad conclusion, but compared to the extraordinary body of the novel, the ending was very ordinary. I will leave my comments at that to avoid any spoilers, but I'll open up this question to the comments (please don't give away the ending): if you've read the book, did you feel at all let down by the ending, did you predict the ending or did you think it was in line with the rest of the story and it was just amazing?
BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP is a debut you should check out. S.J. Watson is an extremely talented suspense writer and I foresee great things from him. BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP is just the beginning!
My review of BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP is part of the TLC blog tour. Check out the other blogs participating in the tour for a variety of views on this novel. You can also check out the BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP Facebook page.
BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP is available in hardcover from Harper (ISBN: 978-0-06-206055-6) and is also available as an audiobook from Harper Audio, narrated by Orlagh Cassidy (ASIN: B0055QAF54)