Thursday, June 30, 2011

Before I Go To Sleep

"Before I Go To Sleep" by S.J. Watson chronicles the story of Christine Lucas, who as a result of a mysterious accident suffers from a rare type of amnesia which wipes her memories clean every night when she falls asleep. At the novel's onset, Christine wakes up disoriented, in a room she doesn't recognize, in bed next to a man she's never seen before. He's got a gold band on his finger. Great, she thinks, I've just had a one night stand with a married man. She sidesteps the other woman's slippers on the side of the bed, and creeps naked and barefoot into the nearby bathroom, trying to make a hasty getaway before the appearance of an angry wife. She uses the toilet, flushes, and goes to wash her hands, and that's when she realizes something is wrong. Her hands don't look like her own, not as she remembers them; the skin is wrinkled, the nails unpolished, and like the man in the bed, she's also wearing a plain gold wedding ring. Christine looks in the mirror and gasps, as if she's just received a punch in the gut, for staring back at her isn't the face of her youth; it's her, but an older version at least twenty, twenty-five years too old.
"The face I see looking back at me is not my own. the hair has no volume and is cut much shorter than I wear it; the skin on the cheeks and under the chin sags; the lips are thin; the mouth turned down. I cry out, a worldless gasp that would turn into a shriek of shock were I to let it..."
This is Christine's daily routine, and each day, much like today, Ben, her husband is there to lovingly and patiently run down the facts of her illness and share the highlights of their life together. Ben informs her how many years they've been married and answers questions about her past; he gives her a scrapbook with photos, followed by a tour of the house. And every day after Ben leaves for work, Dr. Nash, a young and determined doctor working with Christine unbeknownst to her husband, calls her, introduces himself and reminds her were to find the journal he's instructed her to write in and document each day's discoveries.

On this day, as Christine sits to read her journal, she makes a terrifying discovery; there, beneath her name, in capital letters are the words DON'T TRUST BEN. So she turns the page and reads her history, and with each journal entry she unconvers startling truths about herself and her life, each bringing her step-by-step closer to solving the puzzle that is her past, and all leading to a climactic ending filled with unexpected surprises.

This was an amazing debut novel! It's an incredible psychological drama, mystery and page-turning thriller all in one. I have no doubt that this story will be jumping straight from the page onto the big screen in the near future. Make it a night you won't soon forget, and curl up with this great book.