Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

If who we are is based on our memories of our past, then who do we become when we have no memories at all?  Christine wakes up each morning with no memory of who she is.  A traumatic brain injury wipes her memory each night as she sleeps.  Her husband, Ben, is a stranger to her and he must explain the last 15 years of their lives together, each morning before he leaves for work.  In Christine’s own mind she is still twenty five, so the shock of seeing her 40 year old body confirms Ben’s story of events.

Unbeknownst to her husband, Christine has engaged a psychiatric who has been encouraging to keep a secret journal.  Each morning, Dr. Nash calls and reminds her about the journal.  One morning, upon opening it she sees three terrifying words:  “Don’t trust Ben.”  Suddenly, what little she believes about her life is challenged.  Is Ben lying to her?  What caused her condition? Who is the little boy whose image flits at the edge of her mind?  Is she in danger?

The reader sees the story though Christine’s prospective, finding out information as she does, but the reader is left to wonder how reliable is Christine as the narrator of her story? Much of the story is done as diary entries, and illustrate the agitated state of Christine’s mind.  Slowly as the diary entries build, Christine starts to see the discrepancies in Ben’s stories and vague memories begin to return.  Who can she trust and who is lying?

Watson has written an engaging thriller, when the tension builds slowly and steadily until both Christine and the reader are gripped by a feeling of harrowing pressure.  If you are looking for a compelling thriller with literary elements this is definitely a good choice.sleepwatson

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