BOOK REVIEW: Before I Go To Sleep – by S.J. Watson

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Title: Before I Go To Sleep
Author: S.J. Watson
Genre: Mystery, Contemporary, Psychology
First published: June 14th 2011
Finished reading: March 15th 2014
Pages: 372
(Read in Spanish: ‘No Confies En Nadie’)

Rating 4,5

“We’re constantly changing facts, rewriting history to make things easier, to make them fit in with our preferred version of events. We do it automatically. We invent memories. Without thinking. If we tell ourselves something happened often enough we start to believe it, and then we can actually remember it.”

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Memories makes us into what we are. It forms our identity, and without memories life just wouldn’t make sense… We would be lost. Unfortunately, in Before I Go To Sleep that is just what happens to our main character Christine. After having suffered from some kind of brain trauma, every day her world just resets. It is an interesting story about a woman who tries to get her memories and life back after suffering from amnesia, and it has a very strong message. I personally really enjoyed this novel and I would definitely recommend it!

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Christine wakes up every day thinking she is at least 25 years younger than she really is, and doesn’t recognize the room she woke up in nor the man that is supposed to be her husband. We see the world through her eyes… And as Christine started to get some help from a doctor named Ed Nash, she slowly begins to remember pieces of her lost memories. But not all memories are happy… She discovers that her husband Ben is lying to her about a quite few things. He lies about her having a son, Adam, about her best friend Claire having moved away to New Zealand, about her having a car accident… And other things too.

Thanks to the diary Dr. Nash encourages Christine to write, she starts to remember more and more, and becomes confused. She no longer knows who to trust and what to believe. And most importantly, whether to believe the man that says is her husband or not. Slowly we discover the truth together with Christine. We learn her brain trauma wasn’t caused by a car accident like Ben told her. She was attacked at a hotel and found half-strangled all those years ago. But it doesn’t matter how hard she tries to remember who did it, the face of the assaulter remains blurry. And then we read the shocking end, where we learn the truth about Adam and Ben doesn’t seem who we think he is…

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The story is written from Christine’s perspective, and therefore we don’t know the truth until the very end. Slowly we find out more and more about her past, and Ben becomes more suspicious every day. Still he seems to love her, and then the shocking end… I really enjoyed the story and it’s a great first novel. I will be wanting to read more of S.J. Watson’s work for sure… And at least re-read the story in it’s original language.

BOOK REVIEW: LEFT Neglected – by Lisa Genova

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Title: LEFT Neglected
Author: Lisa Genova
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction, Psychology
First published: January 4th 2011
Finished reading: January 13th 2014
Pages: 322

Rating 3,5

“Bob keeps insisting that I can do anything I put my mind to. But he’s referring to my old mind. My new mind is broken and doesn’t give a whack about the left or my old mind’s reputation for success.”

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When I started reading this novel by Lisa Genova, I was worried it was going to be a proper chick lit and I was going to waste my time on it. (Those who know me, know I don’t like that genre.) But LEFT Neglected turned out to be a decent read with some interesting details about a condition I had never heard of before: left neglect. I have a degree in philology and therefore I have studied cases of brain damage before, although only those related to speech and language disability. The interesting part of this book is that Lisa Genova shows us the patient view on the recovery process, and the painstaking struggle with the condition on a daily basis. Without doubt an interesting story and recommended if you enjoy reading contemporary fiction and  books on psychology and the consequences of brain damage.

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Sarah Nickerson is a succesful business woman and mom at the same time. She has a far too busy schedule without time to even breath, but she is able to manage it all quite well. Her job as a VP of human resources at Berkley Consulting takes up most of her life with more than 80 hours per week, and together with her also hard working husband Bob they try to raise their three kids. A rather normal life, until one day Sarah gets a car accident and suffers from brain damage. Her right brain half is affected, and suddenly the whole left side of her world disappears. She can no longer see anything on the left, and is no longer aware the left side of her body exists. Her life comes to a halt and see is forced to see things in a different light. Together with professionals and her long lost mother, they try to fight the left neglect condition and get her functioning as normal and independent as possible again. But process somes slowly, and Sarah is forced to compromise. She will have to find and accept a new way of life, since she won’t be able to go back to Berkley Consulting…

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LEFT Neglected focuses on the patient view and shows how difficult it can be having to learn to live with brain damage. It’s an interesting story and above all a nice way to learn more about this rather unknown brain injury condition!