I discovered this book after finishing The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins at the end of January, having enjoyed it so much, I wanted to find something similar to read. This was the first book that caught my eye and as soon as I read the description, I just had to read it! Before I Go to Sleep is a story about a woman called Christine, who has a unusual mental disorder which involves a large chunk of her memory being erased every night when she goes to sleep. Just the whole concept of that idea really appealed to me and I was really interested in reading more of the details about this. That sort of pyscological kind of theme really fascinates me, and a story based around this woman’s unusual disorder is a clever idea, in my opinion. But also the fact that it was interwoven with a bit of a mystery, made me all the more engrossed in the image – the mystery being based around her husband, Ben, who every morning when she wakes up, is as much of a stranger to her as everyone and everything else in the world.
It is a scary thought, waking up one day believing that you are a child, and realising that you are a forty-seven year old adult! Christine had an accident in her twenties which gave her an unusual form of amnesia which involves her finding it difficult to retain everyday information for more than twenty-four hours – but she remembers being a young adult and a child and when she wakes up every morning, she assumes that she is still that age.
The structure of the story is very clever. It all revolves around a journal that Christine has been keeping in order to try and remember key pieces of information that she learns every day. Just processing the fact that she wakes up every day with a blank mind is difficult for the reader to imagine, really, but the author describes everything very convincingly and there was obviously a lot of research went into perfecting the diagnosis and all the other components of the story.
The Journal turns into a bit of an obsession for Christine and she wants to write in it whenever she has the chance, desperate to log everything down so she doesn’t completely forget… On the first page of the Journal there is a message written in capitals that read: DON’T TRUST BEN. Flashbacks sprinkled across the diary entries make the story compulsive and gripping. Piece by piece, Christine gradually remembers certain strange things about her past that no one has told her – such as the fact that she was a mother and she had had a book published – the latter is a fact that her husband denies. But Christine also has a doctor to confide in; Dr Nash, who is supervising Christine’s progress. I was quite suspicious of him throughout the course of the story and wondered if he was telling Christine everything, so there was a lot of excitement and suspension throughout the book.
The story was beautifully written and the ending came as a surprise. Everything was perfect and it is the best thriller that I’ve ever read! The whole concept was very unusual and S.J.Watson deserves a lot of praise for the medical research he put into the story. I was genuinely sad to close this book. A definite 5 star book.
When I said I was going to be reviewing this book, a couple of commenters recommended the 2014 film, but I am unsure about seeing it because I don’t want my image of the characters and setting from my mind and exchange it with what the film has to offer.