Two first novels dealing with different aspects of memory made for great reading this past month. Imagine what your life would be like if you had no memory of the past. Christine in Before I go to sleep puts it succinctly:
"Another day was ending. Soon I will sleep and my brain will begin to delete everything. Tomorrow I will go through it all again."
The doctor who is working with Christine to retrieve her memories urges her to keep a journal, one that she decides to hide from her husband Ben. The doctor calls her everyday to remind her where the journal is. She adds to the journal faithfully. She does recall some things: she published a successful novel; she and Ben had a son, Adam; she had a best friend, Claire. Why doesn’t Ben talk about these things? Why is he so sure she can never be better? Author S.J. Watson builds up the tension to a chilling conclusion as Christine discovers the truth.
In Turn of mind, Dr. Jennifer White’s world is falling apart. Jennifer is recently widowed, newly diagnosed with dementia and living with a caretaker; her illness has forced her to retire from a successful orthopedic practice. When best friend Amanda is found murdered (with four fingers missing), Jennifer becomes a person of interest to the police. Did Jennifer kill Amanda? If she didn’t, who did? Jennifer’s children Mark and Fiona have their own agendas as she deteriorates further and the police search for answers. Author Alice LaPlante does a superb job in depicting Alzheimer’s and the family tragedy that ensues. Her prose is literate but engaging; this is more than just a thriller.