S. J. Watson’s Before I Go To Sleep: An Unforgettable Psychological Thriller
Do you remember your first kiss? Falling in love? Your proudest achievement? Of course you do. But Christine Lucas doesn't. In fact, she doesn't remember anything. Each day she wakes up terrified, not knowing who or where she is, not recognizing her husband, Ben. Each day she must relearn how she got to this damaged point. S. J. Watson's addictive page-turner, Before I Go to Sleep, is fraught with tension; he'll have you hooked the moment Christine discovers her secret journal and reads the ominous words she can't recall writing: "Don’t trust Ben."
From that point, this unnerving story is told through the prose of Christine's journal, which a mysterious Dr. Nash, who is treating her unbeknownst to her husband, has urged her to keep. Ben has explained that they are happily married and have shared a lifetime together. As a result of a hit-and-run car accident, she has a rare form of amnesia, one that allows her to form and retain memories only during her waking hours, which then evaporate as she sleeps, and so it begins the next day. Unbelievably, she has lost twenty years of memories. Her journal is her only lifeline, though she must trust Dr. Nash to remind her daily of its existence.
And the journal is indeed helping. Christine begins to have flashes of fragmented memories that she can hold onto. Through these glimmers and her own writings, she realizes there are contradictions in what her husband and her doctor are saying. Dr. Nash insists that her amnesia was the result of an incident much more horrific than a hit-and-run. Ben tells her they have no children … until the day he tells her they did have a son who died. And then denies their child yet another day. Perhaps he is protecting her from the grief she would relive anew each day upon hearing of this tragedy. As Watson's tale unwinds, we see that between love and obsession lies manipulation.
Without the benefit of reliable memories to form her identity, Christine is gripped by the bone-chilling fear that her mind may simply be inventing scenarios to fill in the blanks. She -- and, ergo, the reader -- feels consumed with a frenzy of questions. How can she know what is true and who to believe? Did she really spend years paranoid, violent, in a psychiatric hospital, as Dr. Nash says? Does her son exist and is he dead? Why are they keeping her from her best friend, who may have the answers to her past? And how can Christine trust these men who each claim to have her best interest at heart, when she can't even trust herself?
There is panic laced within Watson's writing, the threat of unspoken conspiracies. He has crafted a uniquely suspenseful novel, so creepily good, you'll have a hard time forgetting it well after the chilling ending.