Christine has woken up and doesn't recognize her surroundings, the man sleeping next to her in bed, or the older and wrinkled face peering back at her in the bathroom mirror. The pictures around her show the same woman in the reflection, but Christine doesn't understand how she can look as though she's in her forties when she should be in her twenties.
Upon learning from her husband, Ben, that every morning starts out like this, Christine is devastated. She is halfway through her life but can't remember anything past her late twenties. An accident destroyed her memory and while she can remember everything throughout the day, going to sleep reboots her and she starts all over again the next morning. She wakes each day unable to recognize her husband, her house, or what happened to her mother and other family members and friends. Every morning starts out in this same way.
When she receives a phone call from a doctor, she learns that it's a call she gets from him each morning. He's directed her to a journal she's been keeping for the past few weeks, and it becomes her daily reminder and re-education on how she now lives her life. It's a ritual each day she has to re-learn, so the events her journal describes are emotions and moments she has to go through and experience as though new, again and again. When she reads her unsettling advice to keep the journal secret from her own husband, the frightening possibilities pile on. Religiously documenting each day's events forces her to question if its simply paranoia or if she truly is in danger. Christine's psychological thriller begins its emotional ride.
I was surprised by this book. Immediately, I was pulled in, hooked with each page I turned, and ultimately found it to be a satisfying suspense novel. Not knowing who to trust or what to believe, Christine's horrible nightmare of the same daily education of the loss of her life is heartbreaking. I was comfortable with its repetition since I was anticipating it, but I can't imagine listening to the audio book version. (A search through my trusty Google Reader confirmed that with Heather's and Sandy's thoughts, so I would maintain my recommendation that reading versus listening to it would be the best choice.) I understood and expected that each day's start would be the same, but the author was able to skip a little bit of each morning from the prior entry so it didn't feel tiresome for the reader, which can be challenging when dealing with a Groundhog Day flow. This disturbing and frightening novel kept me on the edge of my seat and all I could imagine was the horror of not knowing where you were every day when you woke up, or not recognizing your own husband sleeping in bed next to you, or wondering why you look like you're in your forties when you feel you haven't even reached thirty yet. Nightmare.
While I felt it was a bit too neat and tidy with its conclusion, it successfully kept my attention and I couldn't put it down. I'm not surprised to hear that this has been optioned for a film with Ridley Scott's production company; I think it would make an excellent film and may translate even better into that medium. I'm looking forward to it.
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Release Date: 2/7/2012 (paperback)
About the Author
S.J. Watson was born in the Midlands, lives in London and worked in the NHS for a number of years. In 2009, Watson was accepted into the first Faber Academy "Writing a Novel" course, a program that covers all aspects of the novel-writing process. Before I Go To Sleep is the result.
Before I Go To Sleep has become a phenomenal international success, sold in 42 territories around the world. It is a New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller, and won both the Crime Writers' Association Award for Best Debut Novel and the Galaxy National Book Award for Crime Thriller of the Year. Before I Go To Sleep has also been acquired for a film by Ridley Scott's production company, Scott Free, with Rowan Joffe to direct.
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Many thanks to TLC Book Tours for including me in this tour which goes through the first week of March 2012. To read all of the reviews at each tour stop, click here.