To Go: 61
31. Solaris — Stanislaw Lem
32. The Waste Land, Prufrock, and Other Poems — T.S. Eliot
33. The Singles — Meredith Goldstein
34. The Notebook — Nicholas Sparks
35. If You Were Here — Jen Lancaster
36. The Creeper — Tania Carver
37. The Surrogate — Tania Carver
38. Lethal — Sandra Brown
39. Before I Go To Sleep — S.J. Watson
Christine wakes up every morning in an unfamiliar bed with an unfamiliar man.
She looks in the mirror and sees an unfamiliar, middle-aged face. And every morning, the man she has woken up with must explain that he is Ben, he is her husband, she is forty-seven years old, and a terrible accident two decades earlier decimated her ability to form new memories.
But it’s the phone call from a Dr. Nash, a neurologist who claims to be working with Christine without her husband’s knowledge, that directs her to her journal, hidden in the back of her closet. For the past few weeks, Christine has been recording her daily activities — tearful mornings with Ben, sessions with Dr. Nash, flashes of scenes from her former life — and rereading past entries, relearning the facts of her life as retold by the husband she is completely dependent upon. As the entries build up, Christine asks many questions. What was life like before the accident? Why did she and Ben never have a child? What has happened to Christine’s best friend? And what exactly was the horrific accident that caused such a profound loss of memory?
Every day, Christine must begin again the reconstruction of her past. And the closer she gets to the truth, the more unbelievable it seems.
I’m having a reading weekend; I’m at home until Monday night and brought three books with me, so hopefully I’ll get through all of them. Before I Go To Sleep was the first of those three, and it was an excellent one to start with. S.J. Watson’s debut novel was an absolute masterpiece.
Before I Go To Sleep was, first and foremost, a gripping mystery-thriller. Watson revealed just enough at the right moments to keep pulling his reader through Christine’s past, and never made it easy to guess what was coming next. Beyond that, it was a beautiful portrayal of everlasting love, with an interesting existential question tied in: if we’re defined by our memories, who are we without them? Before I Go To Sleep compels you to ask yourself that question, and it’s terrifying to consider what the answer might be.
Christine was a really beautifully drawn character; every emotion, every thought she had was so believable and even relatable. Watching her go through cycles of confusion, guilt, and fear at not understanding who she was or how she got there was utterly realistic — and often heartbreaking.
There’s no doubt that Before I Go To Sleep will be in my top ten books when I write up the year-in-review. It was everything a good book should be.
Next book: either When She Woke by Hillary Jordan, or The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak