S.J. Watson, Before I Go To Sleep (2011)

It seems that everybody else has already read this book, so I’d better be short.

I won’t go into details about the well-known plot, that revolves around main narrator Christine’s weird amnesia. Her condition does not affect her functioning on a daily basis, except that it makes her forget every night the last 20 years. As a result, it leads her to rediscover everything about herself every morning, and scramble to patch up her life story with a continuous urgency.

I read this book very very fast, because it had an addictive quality that made me say “wow!” and keep turning pages. I had a lot of fun reading it, there’s no doubt about that.

Then I turned the last page and it felt just like a huge sugar crash, to keep the medical metaphor running. The bubble of enthusiasm burst and all I could muster was the odd feeling that I’d been tricked.

Nicely tricked, but still. The “Wow” in my head was replaced by “Clever”. The compliment runs both ways. It is clever to use this strange illness as a prop, as the structure of the whole plot and as a ticking clock to keep pace. But it’s damn convenient for a writer, and probably a bit too much so. Especially when Christine regains bits of memory in a nothing-short-of-miraculous-way, just in time to nudge the plot forward.

The story demands a lot from the reader: in one hand it demands to be suspicious about everything because of the unreliable narrator construction, but on the other hand we’re supposed to believe everything about the very particular condition affecting Christine. As the writer is a doctor we tend to trust him, but really no book should hang on a writer’s professional career.

At the express condition that you agree to forget and forgive a lot in terms of believability, if you haven’t read it yet, don’t miss out on all the fun!

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2 thoughts on “S.J. Watson, Before I Go To Sleep (2011)

  1. I thought I was one of the last to read it when I read it last month.I thought you had to suspend disbelief to read this book but it was certainly a page turner.

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