Believing herself to be a young, 20-something with all of her life ahead of her, Christine wakes up next to a strange man wearing a wedding band. She stumbles to the bathroom only to see her wrinkles and the face of a woman much older than she believes herself to be. She sees the pictures carefully arranged, with arrows pointing at the older woman’s face, “you” and the man from the bed, “your husband, Ben.” She’s terrified and tries to catch her breath. This can’t be her life, where did the last 20 years go? This is the way Christine wakes each morning. She has a rare form of amnesia, different than what we’ve seen in other memory thrillers, where she is unable to retain any new memories after she goes to sleep.
Christine is met by a savvy psychologist who suggests that she keep a journal; the novel speeds up in pace while we learn about Christine’s life as she does, one piece at a time, building on top of previously known information, until the final pieces threaten the entire structure and everything begins to wobble. Watson uses foreshadowing to build a dangerous foundation. The plot climaxes at a point when Christine reads, “Don’t trust Ben” scrawled on the front page of her journal. Christine learns pieces of her past that force her to barely even trust herself. Dr. Nash even plants the seed of doubt causing her to question everything that she’s learned and written with her own hands in her daily journal.
I was immediately hooked by Before I Go to Sleep. The premise is intriguing and at times haunting. The building of suspense and the immediacy of the pace makes for a very quick read. In the end, looking back at it, some things were just a bit too convenient. Though Christine is not able to make new memories, it seems that there are things she is able to remember or the story wouldn’t move as quickly. The novel takes an unexpected and devastating turn near the end, but even that turn felt a little contrived.
Part-time fiction writer, Alisha Churbe lives in Portland, Oregon. In the rare instances when you can pry her away from books, Alisha can be found travelling in foreign countries, cooking, or hiking with her husband Michael and dog Zach.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Harper. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.