“Before I Go to Sleep” by S. J. Watson
Publisher’s Synopsis: S. J. Watson makes his powerful debut with this compelling, fast-paced psychological thriller, reminiscent of Shutter Island and Memento, in which an amnesiac who, following a mysterious accident, cannot remember her past or form new memories, desperately tries to uncover the truth about who she is and who she can trust.
4 out of 5 stars
Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, terrified because I feel that I am lost somewhere and buried alive. It takes just a few seconds for me to realize that I am safe in my bed with someone who loves me sleeping next to me.
What if you woke and and that terror never left you and you have no recollection of who was next to you or how you got there?
That’s the basis of “Before I Go to Sleep”. Our narrator, Christine, wakes up next to a sleeping man she doesn’t know. She makes her way to the bathroom and find photos taped around the mirror, detailing a life that she appears in but has no memories of. Her husband, Ben, explains that they are indeed married, and have been for 22 years, that she is safe and this is her life … the same explanation he has been giving her every morning for 16 years.
Christine was in a severe car accident and suffered head trauma that left her with anteretrograde amnesia – she is unable to create new memories or recover old memories. This means that each night when she slept, all the day’s memories would be erased and she would start the next day with no memories.
She is contacted by a doctor who is interested in presenting her case as a paper and with his help, she is able to keep a journal. He calls her daily to remind her to read her journal and to get it out of it’s hiding place; Christine has kept it hidden from her husband along with the fact that she sees this doctor.
Using the journal, she is able to begin to piece together some of her past – and it doesn’t add up. On the very first page of her journal, she has written in bold letters, “Don’t Trust Ben”.
Watson has done a great job portraying Christine’s paranoia and suspicions, as well as her confusion over who to trust. Can she trust her husband, Ben, who has cared for her and loved her all these years? Why did she write not to in her journal? Can she trust the doctor? Can she trust herself when she remembers nothing from her past? What is real?
This is an excellent psychological thriller, and I really enjoyed it. About 70% of the way through the book, I thought that I had for sure figured out who had done what but I was completely wrong! The twist at the end was rough and more than a little sad. I had a tough time putting the book down until I finished the entire thing.