Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson definitely goes down as one of my favorite books this year. The story is incredibly suspenseful. It was so gripping that I read the majority of the book in one day. There is an intensity and uniqueness to the novel that will keep me praising this one for a while.
The book begins with Christine waking up one morning thinking that she is 20-something and not remembering how she ended up in bed with an older married man. She tumbles into the bathroom, only to find her hands appear older than she feels. When she looks in the mirror, she does not recognize herself. She is not 20-something but instead 47. Soon she finds photos of herself and the married man from the bedroom. There are notes on the photos identifying the man as her husband, Ben. Christine is soon advised by Ben that this scene happens every day. Christine has a rare form of amnesia that prevents her from remembering the last 20 years. She only retains memories for a 24-hour period. After a full night’s sleep, she wakes confused and thinks she is still a young woman.
Christine receives a phone call from a man identifying himself as her doctor, a psychoneurologist named Dr. Nash. Christine does not remember Dr. Nash, but he alerts her to a journal that she has been keeping. The story then switches to journal format, where Christine spends each day learning about her life anew, primarily by reading her journal. As time goes on, the journal allows her to form a more complete picture of the last 20 years. She is able to build on the things she learned and wrote down on previous days.
Before I Go To Sleep is the story of a woman who spends each day confused and scared, not knowing who she is or who she can trust. The reader becomes engrossed in the story, wondering themselves who is trustworthy – Ben? Dr. Nash? Who is telling her the truth about her past? S.J. Watson finds ways to keep the daily memory loss interesting and fresh, rather than repetitive and boring. The ending of the novel felt a bit rushed and trite, but it did not change my opinion of the novel as a whole. This is S.J. Watson’s debut novel, which is hard to believe. I will certainly be in line for whatever comes next.
I know I am gushing here, but if you are a fan of suspense novels, you absolutely must read Before I Go To Sleep.