Before I Wake contained two completely compelling stories narrated by Sue. In the present, Sue’s daughter Charlotte was in a coma after allegedly stepping in front of a bus to commit suicide. Sue tried to understand why her daughter would take such actions by interviewing Charlotte’s friends and reading her diary to piece together Charlotte’s life. The present collided with the past when Sue believed that her former fiance was stalking her.
In the past, Sue’s own diary revealed the tumultuous relationship she had at one time with James. James was an emotionally and physically abusive man who managed to trap Sue into a dangerous relationship with him until they ultimately became engaged. This aspect of the novel reminded me of Behind Closed Doors, which was another utterly compelling novel despite the harrowing domestic violence described (which I normally cannot stomach to read about).
Sue believed that James was stalking her and may have had something to do with her daughter’s accident. But her previously fragile emotional state led the people around her to question her mental stability rather than believe her. Sue’s husband thought she was having a mental breakdown and walked out on her when she refused to see a shrink. Left on her own, Sue took action to figure out the truth behind Charlotte’s accident and discover whether James was stalking her.
Each chapter had a piece of the present and the past in it and packed with action that pushed the story along at a great pace. I couldn’t figure out the relevance of the past story until the end of the novel, but then it tied together very well. I liked the strong and smart characters here as well as the great writing. This was a great read and I look forward to more books by this author.