You know that movie 50 First Dates, where Drew Barrymore lost her memory in a car accident, and Adam Sandler has to make her fall in love with him every day, reminding her of their history and generally recreating her whole world for her since the accident? Yeah, this book is just like that — only Adam Sandler might be trying to kill Drew Barrymore and she has no one she can really trust.
“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.”
Every time Christine falls asleep, her brain wipes out all of her memories from the day — and the previous couple of decades, as well. She got in an accident about 20 years ago, and since then has woken up every morning thinking she’s still in her early 20s, in college — although she’s now a married woman in her late 40s. She wakes up next to her husband, Ben, of whom she has no recollection, and every day he explains to her what has happened. The accident not only prevents her from making new memories, but it destroyed the few years prior to the injury as well. Her memories sometimes seem to be coming back, but despite the work she’s doing with her therapist, she can’t quite keep a hold of them. She starts writing a journal to herself, explaining in her own words what she knows and remembers. One day, she wakes up and sees a new note in her journal: Don’t trust Ben.
The fragmentary writing of the novel — it bounces around a lot as Christine attempts to recover memories from childhood, from college, from her courtship with Ben, from their first years of marriage — keeps the reader as off-kilter as poor Christine must feel. You can tell pretty much from the start that someone is lying to Christine, but who? The husband, the therapist, the old school friend, the hospital? Things get more and more tense as the book goes on, and then it explodes in the end as Christine finally gets answers to all of her questions.