BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP by S. J. Watson
Kirkus Star

BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP

KIRKUS REVIEW

Based upon a deceptively simple premise, Watson’s debut novel unwinds as a story that is both complicated and compellingly hypnotic.

Every single morning of Christine’s life is exactly the same as every other morning: She awakens next to a total stranger in a room she does not recognize, surrounded by objects she has never before seen. Christine remembers nothing of the day before and not much of the life she lived prior to these mornings. She remembers being a lithe 20-something, but awakens day after day in the body of a woman who is nearly 50, with sagging breasts and wrinkles. Most disturbing, though, is the older man she does not recognize beside her in bed. The man, who patiently explains that he is her husband, Ben, tells her how she has come to this terrible place. Christine, he says, was struck by an automobile and injured. Now she suffers from a type of amnesia that once she sleeps for the night wipes the slate from the previous day clean. When she awakens, she cannot recall her life or the people in it. Ben anticipates her questions, though, and has placed photos of himself and Christine around the bathroom mirror so that when she awakens in a panic, with a body and face that she cannot recognize, she will find the photos and begin once again to adjust to a world where she remembers nothing. But Christine is seeing a doctor behind Ben’s back. His name is Dr. Nash, and he encourages her to keep a journal. It is through this journal that she begins to pick up the pieces of her life and who she was before she was injured. Watson writes in the first person, from the perspective of a woman, and the voice is surprisingly spot-on. The angst is unimaginable but palpable in this suspenseful story of a woman who can take nothing for granted.

Watson’s pitch-perfect writing propels the story to a frenzied climax that will haunt readers long after they’ve closed the cover on this remarkable book.

Pub Date: June 14th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-06-206055-6
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2011




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