Everyday we wake up and know who we are. We throw on some clothes, rush to work, take our kids to school, or even enjoy the solitude of a day off. We live a life of routine, BUT the routine is one that we own. We understand. We relate to. It is our life; we have created it and therefore we live it.
But imagine if that were not the case. Imagine waking up to nothing. You do not know your name, you do not know who the man/woman/child who is sleeping in the bed next to you. You have absolutely zero recollection of where you are.
What would you do?
I asked my Facebook followers a few weeks ago a rather complicated question. It appears simple in it’s statement but holds a world of complications if taken seriously. Would you rather lose your LONG term or SHORT term memory, and why? The answers were interesting, and extremely varied. Some were aghast at the thought of losing either. Some (myself included) were happy with the thought of losing their past, but it was one statement, one very bold and very eloquent statement that dominated the pack. “My past made me who I am, if I forget it, who am I?” Now I ask you, how do you argue with that?
“Christine wakes up every morning in an unfamiliar bed with an unfamiliar man. She looks in the mirror and sees an unfamiliar, middle- aged face. And every morning, the man she has woken up with must explain that he is Ben, he is her husband, she is forty-seven years old, and a terrible accident two decades earlier decimated her ability to form new memories.
But it’s the phone call from a Dr. Nash, a neurologist who claims to be working with Christine without her husband’s knowledge, that directs her to her journal, hidden in the back of her closet. For the past few weeks, Christine has been recording her daily activities—tearful mornings with Ben, sessions with Dr. Nash, flashes of scenes from her former life—and rereading past entries, relearning the facts of her life as retold by the husband she is completely dependent upon. As the entries build up, Christine asks many questions. What was life like before the accident? Why did she and Ben never have a child? What has happened to Christine’s best friend? And what exactly was the horrific accident that caused such a profound loss of memory?
Every day, Christine must begin again the reconstruction of her past. And the closer she gets to the truth, the more un- believable it seems.”
Now, I have to be honest… I picked up this book for 1 reason and 1 reason only. This quote:
“An exceptional thriller. It left my nerves jangling for hours after I finished the last page.” – Dennis Lehane
For those of you that don’t know… Dennis Lehane is the author of (to name a few) Mystic River, Shutter Island, and Gone Baby Gone. His writing style is, (for a lack of a better word) chilling. So when I read that “Before I Go To Sleep” left his “nerves jangling for hours” I couldn’t pass it up.
What I expected was (not necessarily) an average amnesia riddled read, but one that delved deeper into the psychosis that tends to fuel it. What I didn’t expect, was a thriller that I didn’t want to put down.
I would be remiss if I didn’t say that the book (as a whole) start out slow, and yes…there was a point in the very beginning when I was sure I was going to hate it for it’s gut wrenching repetition, but I’m glad I stuck it out.
Because about a half way through, once you’ve gotten to know the “real” Christine, (even if she hasn’t) you come to understand that something is horribly wrong, AND…without consciously realizing it… anxiety starts to build in your chest and you become inexplicably tied to her. You have to help. You do not exactly “understand” what she is going through… but you sympathize with it, and more importantly…you want to fix it.
But that doesn’t happen. Instead you are forced to sit back and watch, (ok..read) while her life is continually dealt blows. You WILL know what is going on… like me, you are sure to have a light-bulb moment when everything makes sense, but again…there is nothing you can do about it. So you keep reading, hoping that she will remember, that a little spark will ignite that missing memory, that despite her doctors, her husband and her friends… she will SEE that light at the end of the tunnel and she will run like hell to get to it.
Because at the end of the day…she has no other choice.
This book will drive you crazy. It will make you mad, but it will make you THINK! Which is exactly the point Lehane was trying to make.
If you like thrillers, if you are fascinated with the mind of the unaware…take a crack at it. If nothing else… I guarantee you that the last sentence is worth the other 514 pages.
Happy Reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
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