Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Book Review: "Before I Go to Sleep" by S.J. Watson

Imagine waking up every morning and not knowing who or where you are. Every morning you are shocked to find out that you're in your mid-40s and married, but you don't recognize your husband or the house you're in. That is reality for Christine Lucas, the main character in S.J. Watson's Before I Go to Sleep. Suffering from memory problems as the result of head trauma, she lacks the ability to retain memories from one day to the next. She doesn't remember whether she loved her husband, she doesn't remember her friends or anything momentous in her life; each day she has to be reminded of everything that happened to her.

One day Christine meets Dr. Ed Nash, a neurologist interested in her case. He encourages her to keep a journal about what she remembers each day, and then he calls her each day to remind her where she can find her journal. He also takes her to places he hopes might trigger her memories, and little by little, they start coming back—and Christine realizes that regaining her memories opens her up to the realities of how she was injured and what her life was like before she lost her memory. Much of the book is composed of accounts from her journal, as her memories—or what she thinks are memories—start coming back, and she doesn't know who to trust.

This was a really interesting concept, similar to movies like Memento and 50 First Dates. There were a lot of twists and turns in the story which kept me guessing, and many of my suspicions about where the story would go were proven wrong. Ultimately, however, despite the inherent tragedy of Christine's story, I didn't find any of the characters particularly sympathetic, so I couldn't get myself fully immersed in their lives. But if you enjoy fast-paced mystery/thrillers, you'll enjoy this.

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