Title: Before I Go To Sleep
Author: S.J. Watson
Release Date: June 14, 2011
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Each morning, Christine wakes up in a panic. She doesn’t know where she is, or who the stranger is sleeping beside her. When she makes her way to the bathroom, panicked, she doesn’t recognize the woman staring back at her in the mirror. Then, the man explains to her that he is her husband, Ben, and that Christine had an accident years ago in which she lost most of her memory. In addition to losing much of her pre-accident long term memory, she also forgets the events of each day, so every morning, Ben must once again explain the situation to her. But after Christine receives a phone call from a mysterious doctor, he leads her to a journal written in Christine’s hand, one with three words on the cover – “Don’t Trust Ben.”
Before I Go To Sleep is a psychological thriller in which the reader, along with Christine, has no idea who to trust. It makes for an intense read because Christine has to question every piece of information she receives. It’s difficult enough that she can’t rely on her own memory, but to not be sure if she can really believe those around her makes things incredibly difficult, and also makes Christine feel like she is under constant attack. The only thing she can completely trust is her diary written in her own words, even if she can’t remember writing them, and it becomes her lifeboat over the course of the novel.
Even when it seems like all the inaccuracies and questions can be explained away, and Christine is content to settle down in her difficult existence, Watson always manages to include the niggling doubt. Christine can’t help but explore all of these avenues in order to make as certain as possible that what she sees is actually what happened. It’s a mystery centered on Christine’s own past, and it really makes for a satisfying twist on the traditional psychological thriller.
Watson also successfully presents the difficulties of a mental illness. Christine feels lost without her past and frustrated that she can’t remember anything from day to day. She knows Ben loves her and has been extraordinarily patient with her, but she can’t help but cringe when he reaches out for her – after all, he is a stranger. She can’t remember their courtship or wedding or their life together. It brings up very interesting questions, ones that readers will be itching to discuss after the book is over.
Before I Go To Sleep is harrowing psychological drama, and though readers will likely see what the book is building towards for its explosive ending, that won’t diminish their enjoyment. This book was thoroughly entertaining and completely riveting from beginning to end, and I look forward to seeing what S.J. Watson does next.