I had to do exactly that, complete this book before I went to sleep. The story starts with the prologue
‘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 only be telling you half the story. Welcome to Christine’s life.’
That captivated me because of the kind of questions that it leads to. Before I proceed further, I have to put this symbol in place.
Now let me begin again. Christine’s life is defined on a day to day basis. She remembers quite a lot of incidents and people from before her accident. But nothing beyond that. And that was around 20 years ago. The first time we are introduced, she is shocked to see that she has aged that much. And she wakes up in a house with a man beside her who is marked as Ben, her husband from the photos that are there in the bathroom for her to not panic. Remember ‘The First 50 Dates’ movie ? It shows a happy ending after so many years with Drew Barrymore having a kid and waking up everyday to find some details posted around her to make her identify who she is and who her family members are ? Well take that premise, but here we are going through the process of recovering Christine’s memory slowly and steadily.
She meets Dr Nash rather skeptically (she doesn’t remember him, but then she had written down her appointment with him so she believes him), much younger to her and whom she crushes on at a time during their healing process (as we can call it), and he gives her a journal to read. This is the journal she was keep since she had made an appointment with the doctor who is trying to help her resolve her amnesia. As and when she starts reading the journal which is dated, we are introduced to her journey back to her memories, which are either triggered by a name, or a photo or an incident or just a sudden burst of it. But that journal also has a warning written ‘Do not trust Ben’ in the beginning of it. But when she starts to discover herself through the journal, she is torn apart in her belief about Ben and herself. She had to get up everyday, read the journal, find a semblance of herself through that, and proceed from there. But for some reason, when she finds that Ben really loves her and that he would do anything for her, there is something that prevents her from giving her full trust to him. She lost her very close and best friend Claire, who according to Ben has moved to Newzealand. She finds that she lost her son Adam in the war. She learns that she was once a writer and had published a novel, but Ben tells her that she wasn’t. But she still continues seeing Dr. Nash without the knowledge of Ben. She visits the psychiatric award where she was lodged and that brings her some more memories. When she confronts Ben on what made her like this, he tells her about a car accident. But then later one day she remembers about an incident where she is attacked in a hotel room. Dr. Nash confirms her doubt. She was attacked in the hotel room and after that she was seen with lot of blood loss and in a very battered state roaming in the road only to be found by a stranger who had admitted her in the hospital. She gets the shock of her life on hearing this. After that suddenly, Dr. Nash tells that Claire is looking for her , exactly on the day when she is convinced that she has to tell Ben about seeing the doctor for treatment. Then she again goes back to not telling Ben anything. She meets Claire and is happy to know a lot of missing pieces and she decides to love Ben for who he is. But the journal entries is missing for almost a week. And Ben is taking her somewhere for the weekend. When all things seem to be perfectly falling in place, she is suddenly engulfed with a stranger fear. Can she rely on her Journals to identify herself, even though she knows that Ben is her husband why does she feel a sort of uneasiness at times, is she making up stories in her journals or were they real, is Dr. Nash a trust worthy person. She is confused as to whom to believe and what to believe. But desperate to be fixed. What happens to her. Does she finally get her memories back. Who was the person who attacked her in the hotel room. Was that her imagination or her memory. Who is telling the truth to her and who isn’t.
Amnesia is a scary thing. Imagine having to not remember anything about yourself after a day. We have seen movies like ‘The Memento’ and Ghajini using this premise, but this is still very gripping when compared to those. A movie material. Even though we have to learn everything from the journal and the past and present collide one too many times, you don’t lose track of them. Its easily possible to get confused as a reader in these kind of stories. But this one holds the character’s place firmly. Its little bit slow, and at times some details are repeated, but that is because as a amnesia patient she convinces herself of that in her journal. Like the death of her son. If you have read these kind of novels, you can guess who it would be half way through, but then again the author throws up a few events to make us believe that we were fooled. But if you are strong enough, you would hold on to your doubts, like I did. But I was still fooled, because I never expected the last 40 pages or so. No one is who they say they are. You might wonder what the hell, how come you were misguided, and when you go back and read those lines, you would see that you forgot to read between them :).
Remember I told you in my post on the movie Sophie’s Choice, that truth can be so confusing at times. Well that is fully applicable here. Not only that, sometimes our memories also play a vital role in our beliefs. I don’t know why I was reminded of Inception while reading this story. May be because it also deals a lot with memories and its manipulation.
A must read if you like a mystery – thriller – suspense – drama genre. Seems like a movie is also going to be made out of it. Will be interesting to watch. I want to see how they translate it to screenplay.
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[…] read this book in 2013. Here is a post where I talk about the book. I remembered it after all this time. That was how effective the story […]