Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Boy Are We Excited About This Book: Mark Says It's The Best Debut Novel He's Read In Three Years, Sarah Says Calling This A Page Turner Is a Gross Understatement, and Jackie's Predicting This Will Be One of the Hottest Books of Summer 2011

"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. . . ."

Memories define us.

So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep?

Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love—all forgotten overnight.

And the one person you trust may be telling you only half the story.

Welcome to Christine's life.

 Mark L says:
"Before I Go To Sleep, is the best debut novel I have read in threeyears.  The plot is well rendered, clear and twisted; the characters are complex and nuanced; issues of identity and intent play out as the challenges of logic opposed to habit.  Fans of literary fiction and of psychological thrillers will both be pleased by a story that is larger than either category.  
The story:
She awakens in an strange bedroom, to an unfamiliar life she does not remember. Christine finds that despite her sense of who she is, a twenty-something woman, she has been robbed of half her life. She is in her 40's and has lost most of her memory and the ability to make new ones. A stranger is her husband. A book of photos shows them together over years and with people she cannot recall. But something seems wrong.

The logic of what she sees around her leaves her troubled. Despite the cozy comfort of a house and a supportive husband. She finds inconsistencies and feels a disquiet that something is not right. Her only link to memory of even a day ago is a journal she keeps, chronicling her ordinary days, at the behest of a doctor who is treating her, but has asked her not to tell her husband.

Lies and inconsistencies fuel paranoia and mistrust as she finds out more about her life.  She questions herself as to whether  those lies are malignant, or the expediencies of people who don't want to relive, daily, the traumas and loss from the accident that left her bereft of years. Each instance has an explanation, and the very anger of her reaction shows her why people who care just might lie. But still, the disquiet continues, and each
point where she thinks she is finding balance, everything shifts.

Overlaying all of this is the certainty of the mortality of memory. Today's memories will be gone tomorrow. Can she hang on long enough to find out what is bothering her?

Watson's pallet of emotions colors mood as deftly as Rembrandt played light in oils. There are just enough hints to locate you in time and place, but the story is so perfectly one of consciousness and people as relationships. The sadness of tragedy is just enough subdued. Chris's self doubt is just balanced by certainty that keeps collapsing. She must find her answers, as the title says, before she goes to sleep.

Jackie says:
"I predict that this is going to be one of the hottest books of this summer.  Not only is it brilliant, fast paced and impossible to put down, it's already been sold in 32 countries and to Ridley Scott, who has picked a director for it and has scheduled production on the movie for later this year.  That's damn impressive for a debut novel that is basically the result of taking one course on writing at the impressive Faber Academy.

The premise is that Christine had a terrible car accident years ago, damaging her long and short term memory.  She wakes up every day remembering nothing of her past or present, sometimes thinking she's a child, a teenager, or a young adult.  She's actually 47, and married.  Every day her husband has to explain things to her again, show her around the house, and get her prepared for the day.  EVERY day, because once she goes to sleep, her memory is once again erased.

Determined to figure out a way to make a life, Christine starts a journal that she keeps private while she tries to establish who she really is, finding a way to remind herself every day that the journal exists, reading it every day and trying to put a bigger picture of herself together.  Except, over the course of time, inconsistencies emerge in what her husband is telling her about her history.  And then there is the strange doctor who is treating her that her husband doesn't know anything about, the second cell phone, the missing pictures.  Tiny glimpses of what may be memories begin to haunt and terrify her and it soon seems that no one is who they say they are and the truth may be something dark and deadly.

Don't use this book as a beach read--you'll burn yourself to a crisp because once started, this book will not let you go until the final page, and even then...well, you'll see."

Sarah H adds:
"To say this is a page turner is a gross understatement. I read this book in one day--and I have 2.5 jobs, so that is quite an accomplishment for me."

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