BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP by S.J. Watson

Vacation read #3 was Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson. This is a psychological thriller – not the type of book I usually read, but I had heard good things about it.

Watson Before I Go To Sleep is about Christine, a 47 year-old amnesiac woman who wakes up every morning with no long- or short-term memory due to something that happened to her when she was 29. Whenever she wakes up, she is shocked to learn that she is no longer in her 20s and that there is a strange man sleeping next to her. And every day, that man explains to her that she was in an accident, that she lost her memory, and that they have been married for years. Every day she begins anew the process of coming to terms with the loss of 18 years of her life, and every day she tries to accept that she is married to a man she doesn’t know.

When the book opens, Christine has been seeing a doctor who has encouraged her to keep a daily journal as a way of triggering her memory and helping her to retain memory from one day to the next. Through her journal, the reader gets to follow along as Christine slowly starts to improve, and as her journal causes her to question what others tell her, including her husband. Who can she trust – the words she has written the day before, which she cannot even remember writing – or the one person who has stood by her during her forgotten years?

It’s a fascinating premise, and the book is taut with suspense and tension. I don’t want to say more about the plot, because doing so would ruin the pleasure of peeling the onion-skin plot of Before I Go To Sleep. It’s a rollercoaster ride of a book, one that someday will translate beautifully to to the big screen.

Upon finishing it, I found a lot of holes in the plot (of course the book is unrealistic to start), and a major twist toward the end somehow felt anticlimactic to me. But I still appreciate the book as a great piece of escapist fiction, one that had my heart racing and my eyes flying over the pages just so that I could get further along and closer to the resolution.

Before I Go To Sleep was a great vacation read. Just don’t read it right before bed, or you may find yourself not getting much sleep.

Thanks to HarperCollins for the review copy.

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