As I mentioned in last week’s post, I belong to a book club called Writers as Readers (WaR). Each month we meet and discuss the month’s selection from a writer’s standpoint; trying to learn what works, what doesn’t.
One of things we ask after each month’s WaR meeting is that one member of the group write up a brief summary of the book selection and discussion. This month I am that member, but it works out well for me because I needed a topic for this week’s blog post anyway, hence, 2 Birds with 1 Stone. I wonder where that phrase came from? Hmmmm, topic for next week? Maaaaaaybe.
WaR’s March Selection, Before I Go To Sleep
Okay, here goes. The book that WaR read for March was Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson. According to Wikipedia, Before I Go to Sleep is a psychological thriller about a woman suffering from anterograde amnesia.
Imagine waking up every single morning of your life with the previous day a complete blank page; not knowing that you’ve grown older, who the man in the bed next to you is, and what you did the day before or the week or years before. That is Christine’s life. The thriller part comes in when we learn that Christine’s amnesia was caused by a brutal attack that she barely survived.
Early in the story we are introduced to Dr. Nash, a neuropsychologist who is surreptitiously trying to help Christine gain her memory back. He encourages her to keep a journal which becomes the focal point of Christine’s journey to discover her past and what the horrible ‘accident’ was that caused her amnesia.
For those WaR members who attended the March meeting, Before I Go To Sleep was an enjoyable roller coaster ride. Watson’s use of a journal to craft the protagonist’s forgotten story was ‘just the right tool’ remarked one member. The fact that Christine could read entries written in her own hand-writing was a credible vehicle for Christine to use to piece together her forgotten life.
The story was concise, not too many characters to keep track of and Watson did a superb job of keeping the reader guessing.
“I was going all over the place with who the person was who beat her up,” said Catherine Conroy.
Although I had some issues with repetition, Mary Lamphere pointed out the necessity of it to authentically portray Christine’s ordeal. Mary admired Watson’s handling of the needed repetition noting its challenges, “How do you be repetitive without being repetitive,” she stated.
A minor flaw noted by those at the discussion was Watson’s characterization of Christine. As a male author, he seemed to have some trouble inhabiting the mind of his female protagonist, seeming rather to rely more on stereotypical behavior patterns.
All in all, WaR members thought it was a good read and would definitely recommend it to their friends. The plot pulled you in and kept you guessing and wondering who the bad guy was and it was agreed that Watson created a good bad guy.