Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Memories define us.
So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep?
Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love—all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may be telling you only half the story.
Welcome to Christine’s life.
What Did I Think About the Story?
I find the mysteries of the human brain absolutely fascinating! So much so that I got my BS degree is in Psychology and, while I don't actually use my degree for my work, I still seek out articles, books and film that highlight the many ways our minds not only function day to day but the way the various parts, and the damage that can be done to them, control every faction of our lives. The power of our minds can sometimes be a blessing but, in a case like the one found in Before I Go To Sleep, it can also be a curse that robs a person of control over their memories, their emotions, their physical abilities....just about everything. This theme, that the main character Christine has had a brain injury that makes it so she wakes up every morning not knowing who she or those around her are, drew me instantly to Before I Go To Sleep. What kept me turning the pages was the mystery of what really happened to her and her slow and twisting discovery of who she can really trust.
This psychological thriller begins with our narrator, Christine, waking up every morning in a home and body she doesn't recognize. She has no memory of her past beyond small snippets from her childhood and has no recollection of her husband, Ben. She gets a call from a Dr. Nash, who tells her he has been working with her to try and improve her memory in a variety of ways, including having her keep a journal of what happens every day, that she reads over and adds to in the hopes that this will trigger memories to surface. Remarkably this is exactly what begins to happen. As Christine continues to read over her journal and add more information she realizes that her husband Ben isn't telling her the whole truth about their pasts and what caused her memory loss. As she goes on a search for the facts of her past she will need to discover whether the information Ben is keeping from her is for her own protection or for more nefarious reasons. On top of that, she will have to decide how much she can rely on her own battered mind and the memories that keep surfacing and that she writes down every day in her journal.
S.J. Watson does a wonderful job of keeping the reader captivated as Christine works, largely on her own, to piece together her past and try to find and grasp the memories buried deep within her subconscious. There were aspects I found somewhat tedious - like Christine's continual flip flopping between knowing within herself that she loves and trusts Ben one day and knowing somehow that she cannot trust him the next - but given the rollercoaster the character goes on and the difficulties she faces with not knowing whether she can even trust what she has written in her own journal, it would be a completely realistic response to have. I also felt like those closest to her - Ben, Dr. Nash and her best friend Claire - really let her down when it comes to protecting her fragile mind from those that might wish her harm, but if they had been more on point when it comes to watching over her this would just not be the same story.
Far and away my favorite aspect of Before I Go To Sleep is this idea that our minds are not completely trustworthy. Dr. Nash talks about the mind's tendency to fill in the gaps of what we remember with false information in order to help someone cope with trauma or to give the person the satisfying belief that they can remember details of their past that they actually can't recall properly. This brings up a pretty powerful point for anyone: if this is the case, how much can any of us really trust our memories of the past? This thought alone gives me chills!
Much to my delight I did not see the ending coming at all and that is all due to the author's ability to drop hints throughout the story while never overplaying his hand! The ending is left somewhat open ended and, although I don't usually enjoy this sort of ending, I did in this case. It allows the reader to decide how they think her life might play out and whether or not she will be able to live the normal life she lost when she was injured and that she wants back so badly. Before I Go To Sleep is the kind of satisfying mystery that I enjoy when I want to sink my teeth into something that has me really puzzling over what the big reveal will be at the end. I'm excited to see how the film compares!
What Did I Think About the Cover?
While I can't say I love it, I definitely think it fits with the story. For one, when we first meet Christine she discovers that she has aged way beyond her last memory by looking at her reflection in the bathroom mirror. The foggy aspect of her reflection in the cover helps to advance that idea that her memories are hazy and hard to see. Much of the novel is dark so the dark colors play into that well as well.
My Rating: 4.0/5.0
Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing me with a free copy of Before I Go To Sleep in exchange for an honest review! Be sure to continue below for information on the author, the blog tour and where you can grab your own copy!
About the Author
Find out more about S.J. at his website, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Buy The Book
SJ Watson Blog TLC Blog Tour Schedule
To celebrate the release of Second Life, some bloggers will be reviewing S. J. Watson’s first book, Before I Go to Sleep, while others review Second Life.
Tuesday, June 9th: Fuelled by Fiction – Second Life
Wednesday, June 10th: Always With a Book – Second Life
Thursday, June 11th: Peeking Between the Pages – Second Life
Friday, June 12th: Why Girls Are Weird – Before I Go To Sleep
Monday, June 15th: Snowdrop Dreams of Books – Before I Go To Sleep
Monday, June 15th: A Bookworm’s World – Second Life
Tuesday, June 16th: Kissin Blue Karen – Second Life
Thursday, June 18th: Kritters Ramblings – Second Life
Monday, June 22nd: Ace and Hoser Blook – Second Life
Tuesday, June 23rd: No More Grumpy Bookseller – Second Life
Wednesday, June 24th: From the TBR Pile – Second Life
Wednesday, June 24th: Why Girls Are Weird – Second Life
Thursday, June 25th: Kahakai Kitchen – Second Life
Friday, June 26th: Staircase Wit – Second Life
Monday, June 29th: Sara’s Organized Chaos – Second Life
Tuesday, June 30th: Snowdrop Dreams of Books – Second Life
Wednesday, July 1st: Bookshelf Fantasies – Second Life
Wednesday, July 1st: Booked on a Feeling - Second LifeThursday, July 2nd: FictionZeal – Second Life
Thursday, July 2nd: Mrs. Mommy Booknerd’s Book Reviews – Second Life
Friday, July 3rd: Kissin Blue Karen – Before I Go To Sleep
Friday, July 10th: A Literary Vacation – Before I Go To Sleep
TBD: My Bookshelf – Second Life