Rebecca's Reviews > Before I Go to Sleep

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson
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's review
Apr 02, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: bookclub, writing-inspiration, mental-illness
Read from April 05 to 07, 2012

I blazed through this book in only a couple days. I couldn't put it down. When I first finished it, I wanted to give it 4.5 stars. But after finishing it, I didn't feel satisfied somehow--I couldn't quite put my finger on why right away, either. Then I realized what it was.

The book is told in the first person by a woman (Christine) who suffers from an unusual form of amnesia in which she forgets everything that happened to her the previous day or in the past twenty years (when she was injured) whenever she goes to bed. So every morning, she wakes up, not sure where she is, who the man lying next to her is, and surprised when she sees a 47 year-old woman in the mirror instead of the twenty-something she remembers.

The book is told primarily in the form of journal entries she writes daily so that the next day she can remember. A central crux of the book revolves around the issue of trust: who can Christine trust? Her husband? Her doctor? Her friend? And also, who, can we, the reader trust? Is Christine a reliable narrator? Even she doubts herself at times. In some ways, I found the conflict over deciding who and what to believe more intriguing than the actual quest for truth--what really happened to Christine?

As a result, I think my disappointment came from the fact that the ambiguity that permeates the novel evaporates at the end. We no longer have doubts about what's true or not. Everything is wrapped up nearly--too neatly. I think the book would have been better if it'd taken more of a "In the Lake of the Woods" approach, forcing the reader to decide for themselves what the truth really is/was.

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54.0% "This book s awesome."

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