An Ordinary World

books, blabberings, and a life semi-common

Who Needs Sleep Anyway?

As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I’m still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me …


Such is the hook for S.J. Watson’s BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP and it was enough for me to sit up, take notice, and begin reading. Pegged as a psychological thriller (note the psychological part), Watson’s novel focuses on one woman – Christine Lucas – whose life is one of uncertainty, confusion, and terror.

Around the time when she was 27, Christine was in an accident that left her mind broken and shattered her memories. Twenty years later, Christine wakes up every morning with a man she doesn’t recognize and when she looks at herself in the mirror, she sees a woman she doesn’t know. Every day, the man tells her that he is Ben, her husband, and she is 47 years old, and they go through this routine every morning. Told in a day-to-day format, readers are taken on a curious and exhilarating ride from Christine’s point of view as she remembers details throughout the day only to forget them in the course of a night’s sleep. The appearance of a doctor who is secretly helping her adds more confusion in the midst of lies that may be truths and truths that may be lies.

Though the daily formatting (of narrative and journal entries that are found) can sometimes be tedious and monotonous, it adds to the effect that readers are experiencing exactly what Christine is dealing with. That’s not to say it doesn’t get annoying but those moments seemed few and far between as I raced to the end of the novel to find out what was happening.

A mystery in its own right, BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP had me on the edge of my seat, piecing the clues as they came in, and siding with various characters with each new character that arrived with a different story. With so many twists and turns, it’s almost a possibility for a person to fall off the track but Watson writes in such a way that readers will be able to grasp the emotions and explosive changes throughout the novel. As Christine learns more and more about her life, I stayed with her for every step and felt the same emotions as she did by the end of it all when readers will finally learn what is truth, what is fabricated, and what matters in the long run.

For a riveting read with minor problems – like the slow pacing at some points due to repetition or the (very) few instances where a plot point seems a bit too contrived – pick up BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP. If the reading begins at night, don’t be surprised at the lack of sleep that may occur because of this book. It’s a wonderful debut novel that has already been picked up for a film and it’s anyone’s guess where Watson will take his next pieces of work.


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