Book Review: Before I Go To Sleep

before sleep

Christine can remember how to brush her teeth and cook a meal, but she can’t remember most of her life. Sometimes she wakes up as a 20 year-old, other times as a child, but never as the 47 year-old woman she is. During the day, Christine can learn facts about her life and store new memories, but she can’t recall the memories herself. Anything Christine learns or discovers is lost when she goes to sleep. Christine lives in the present, and she is fully dependent on the man she wakes up next to every morning – her husband, Ben. But is Ben telling the whole story? Not long after entering Christine’s reality do we learn that she has been secretly meeting with a doctor, and she has been keeping a private journal. What would a woman with no memory need to hide from the one person she is supposed to trust?

A premise like this, well, it comes cheap. The “trust no one” approach has been rehashed and reused countless times. What makes Watson’s noir a gripping read is his handling of the premise. The reader only knows what Christine knows, and her knowledge fluctuates. The twists to Christine’s story are not out of left-field (a la Gone Girl), but carefully hidden underneath the surface. When Christine discerns a carefully concealed truth, her moments of clarity are reflected in the reader. Sometimes the narration is bogged down when Christine re-remembers parts of her life, but those re-rememberings quickly turn into a narrative tool that propels the story forward.

Final Verdict: The story moves quickly and the plot twists (especially the doozy at the end) are tough to spot.

Read if: you liked Gone Girl and want a story with similar pacing and feel, OR if you hated Gone Girl and want a noir read with plot twists that are actually feasible.

-Signing off, Jenny Barrows (who loves being able to use the word “noir” in a sentence)

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