Before I Go To Sleep
by SJ Watson
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published June 14th 2011
by Harper Collins
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.
This is one of those books that fascinated me and kept me reeled in until the very end. Maybe it’s because I have a degree in psychology and have worked with trauma victims, or maybe it’s because the writing is so completely riveting.
It’s the story of Chrissie a woman in her late forties who wakes up every day in a strange bed with a strange man who claims he is her husband. She has no recollection of how she got there or who she is, but when she looks in the mirror the reflection staring back at her is NOT what she remembered. She still feels 27 and what she sees is an old wrinkled middle aged woman. Her husband, Ben must remind her every day who he is, that they love each other. And the trickier part is that all the knowledge she gains within those 24 hours will be erased the second she closes her eyes and goes to sleep. Tomorrow the slate of her memory will be wiped clean. She’ll once again have no idea who or where she is.
Enter in Dr. Nash, a neurologist who believes he can help her. He instructs Chrissy to keep a diary of everything she remembers each day. And little by little more pieces are coming back, but the front page of the journal reads DO NOT TRUST BEN. Her husband must not and does not know this journal exists. Christine’s past is not fitting together nicely which leads us to the mystery and suspense of what memories are true, and what are false.
Before I Go To Sleep is an unsettling read as well as a peek into the personal thought process of central character Christine. She is written so believable and alive I had a hard time reconciling the fact the that he author, writing under “SJ”, is really a man, Stephen. He has nailed the inner working of a middle aged woman suffering from a debilitating neurological condition and trauma. Perhaps that’s why already this novel will be sold in 37 countries and a film version is currently being made. The story found its roots in the true story of HM, Henry Gustav Molaison, a memory disorder patient who was much like Chrissie, woke up his entire life, each day to a loss of memory.
This psychological thriller is fascinating, creepy and all around brilliant. Truly a stunning debut. It’s definitely not for young adults or children due to graphic content, violence, sex and language. I would recommend it only to readers 18 and older. While I truly loved the plot, the premise and the execution, the bad language bothered me. So, if you are an adult and you’d like a chance to read it, I’m giving away my personal advanced reading copy on twitter @fireicephotos and on our Facebook page. Ends at midnight tonight MST!