Tiffany's Reviews > Before I Wake

Before I Wake by Robert J. Wiersema
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's review
Jan 20, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: 2009, canadian-fiction
Read in January, 2009

** spoiler alert ** I vacillated when reading this book, between loving the story for what it was and thinking the book was an excuse to push dogma. In the end I decided I was simply caught off guard by the surrealistic nature of the book, as I don't usually read anything resembling magic realism.

I was first sucked in by the more "human" aspects of the book: Simon's affair with Mary, Henry's stifling guilt, the action surrounding the first moments after Sherry's accident. Then things started to take a turn for the weird, and I wavered a bit before settling into the story. Instead of the weird taking over and transforming the book into the ramblings of a religious fanatic, Wiersema does a fantastic job of using the spiritual nature of the book to increase the intensity of the book's personal appeal. What I found particularly well done is the way in which Sherry's healing abilities not only cure people physically, but also emotionally, as demonstrated by the slow rebuilding of her own parents' relationship. I also loved just how human everyone seemed; even Mary, who could have easily been portrayed as a one-dimensional, villainous mistress had an incredible depth to her that I enjoyed very much.

I also liked that Sherry's abilities were kept separate from religion, and really had more to do with spirituality. Wiersema obviously couldn't ignore the religious implications of the "miracle", however, and this is addressed through characters like Father Peter and Leo. This particular plot point really does address the question of good vs. evil, and I was relieved to find out that, in the end, the answer in the book isn't quite as simplistic as I was fearing it would be. I thought it was a little corny that the two "enemies" at the end turned out to be the two biblical characters they did, but I suppose I can also say this isn't completely misplaced, either.

I hope Wiersema keeps writing, because this was a great debut.
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Reading Progress

01/18/2009 page 186
01/20/2009 page 224
70.0% "Weirder than I thought..."

Comments <span class="smallText"> (showing 1-4 of 4) </span> <span class="smallText">(4 new)</span>

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message 1: by Alexis (new)

Alexis He's been an online friend of mine for years :)

message 2: by Alexis (new)

Alexis He's working on a bunch of new things including a new novel. He also does a lot of book reviews for the Globe, Quill and Quire etc.

I liked the characters and I liked that it was set in Victoria. It was a very unusual story for a Canadian book and there was one scene in which I actually screamed while reading.

Tiffany It really does stand out from "conventional" Can Lit, doesn't it? I remember noting that as well while reading the book.

I also fell in love with the characters. I loved watching the relationship between Karen and Simon; I think it's the best example of a marriage on the mend I've ever encountered in literature. I'm glad he's working on another novel!

Bonnie Fiona, I basically agree with absolutely everything you had to say in your review.

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