Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Before I Go to Sleep (S.J. Watson)

Imagine this "Cinderella" story (although Watson is a male)...You want to be a writer, and apply for a very selective program. You are asked to do a creative writing assignment. You do so, and your book not only gets published, but becomes an international bestseller. Authors such as Anita Shreve and Lionel Shrive write blurbs of praise for the back of your book. Tess Gerritsen, author of the Rizzoli & Isles series, writes "Quite simply the best debut I've ever read." Seem impossible? Not only is this story completely true, but I couldn't agree with Gerritson more.

The premise of Before I Go to Sleep is a nightmare. Imagine waking up every single day, and not knowing who you are, who your family is, and where you live. There is a man sleeping next to you, and you have no idea who he is. You panic, and rush into the bathroom. On the mirror are pictures pointing out that the man in the other room is your husband. Every day, you live your life knowing that when you go to sleep, you will forget everything that has happened that day. Imagine going through life with no memories and nothing connected.

This is the reality of the narrator, Christine, an amnesia patient. She is a prisoner in her own body. She needs the same things explained to her every day. Her doctor, who she is seeing secretly, behind her husband's back, suggests that she begin to keep a journal. Every night, she should write in the journal, and every morning, she should reread it. We learn about Christine's story at the very same time she does, which is what makes this book so fresh.

Before I Go to Sleep is one giant puzzle with sometimes an unbearable level of suspense. The reader knows that Christine is in danger, but Watson keeps us guessing about the bad guys. This is Hitchcock brought into 2011. I cannot recommend this debut novel highly enough, and I can't wait to read more from this promising new author.