Thursday, June 23, 2011

Before I Go to Sleep by S J Watson

Before I Go to Sleep: A Novel

  If any book deserves a spot on your summer reading shelf, let it be this one.

   Christine wakes up every day not knowing who she is or where she is.  She doesn't recognize her body or even her own face in the mirror.  Every morning she stumbles through feelings of confusion, panic and terror, and every morning her husband Ben explains to her that she was in an accident 20 years ago and suffers from amnesia.  She eventually starts seeing a doctor (whom Ben doesn't know about) and he encourages her to keep a secret journal to try and help fill in the missing pieces of her memory.  Dr. Nash calls her in the mornings after Ben has gone to work and tells her where she has hidden her journal, and every day she reads her own history that she has pieced together through recordings of conversations between Ben, herself and Dr. Nash.

   Christine's amnesia is unique.  When she reads her journal, certain memories take hold in her brain, but when she falls asleep, she wakes up with her memory wiped clean.  Bits and pieces of her former life are coming together when she reads a chilling journal entry that simply says, "Don't trust Ben."  Now Christine must figure out the truth about what happened to her 20 years ago without knowing who she can and cannot trust.

   This book made me wish I knew how to speed read so I could find out what was going to happen next as soon as possible.  Being told from Christine's perspective, her mind is unstable and she doesn't know who or what to believe, and this wraps the book in a whirring cycle of paranoia for both Christine and the reader.  Before I Go to Sleep has been compared to the movie Memento quite a bit in reviews, but I never saw it, so this whole premise is new to me.  I do think this novel would make an excellent movie, and conveniently enough, the film rights were recently sold.  According to Watson's website, "filming is scheduled to begin in 2011" (  This is his first novel, but with all the attention and positive press it has received, I have a feeling there will be more to come from this talented debut author.