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Before I Wake [Hardcover]

Robert J. Wiersema
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug. 8 2006
They say there are three sides to every story. Yours, mine and the truth. In Before I Wake, debut novelist Robert J. Wiersema cleverly introduces a multitude of voices to tell this astonishing story of loss, redemption and forgiveness. And the truth? Well, when miracles start happening around Sherry Barrett, a three-year-old girl in a coma, explanations of a rational kind no longer seem important.

Injured by a hit-and-run driver while crossing the street, Sherry Barrett lies in a hospital where her doctors say she will never wake up. Her distraught parents, Karen and Simon, make the painful decision to take her off life support. But when they do, Sherry spontaneously begins breathing on her own, the first of many miraculous events to occur.

Henry Denton, the driver who struck Sherry, is haunted by the accident and attempts to take his own life, only to be saved by an unexplained force. Sherry’s nurse discovers that the little girl has the power to heal. When word of her gift leaks, the sick begin lining up to be saved and a mysterious stranger sets his sights on vanquishing the believers and the Barretts.

Before I Wake delicately brings together grandiose leaps of faith with the fragility of every day moments. There’s a fly-on-the-wall quality in Wiersema’s observations, as his realistically flawed characters struggle with guilt, self-loathing and belief while they go about their daily lives. The novel’s fractured narrative style is propulsive and unexpected at every turn, and succeeds in raising questions about times of great faith, and what happens when they happen to the most unlikely of people.

“I believe in miracles — we see them around us all the time,” Wiersema says. “I believe in not having the answers, in there being forces beyond our understanding.”

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From Publishers Weekly

In this impressive debut, Wiersema crafts an intelligent, contemplative supernatural thriller replete with well-rounded characters, artless dialogue and a plot that, while imbued with the unexplained, develops organically, revealing its secrets at just the right pace. In the novel's opening pages, three-year-old Sherry Barrett, an only child, is rendered comatose in a hit and run accident. What follows could have been a typical thriller full of cartoonish villains and escalating peril; it also could have been a treacly fairy tale about God's miraculous healing power. Happily, Wiersema steers clear of these well-traveled roads and, by way of multiple first-person narratives, tells an engrossing story of flawed but genuinely good people who must bear up under the stress of loss, betrayal, unwarranted miracles and unconventional spiritual warfare. Particularly well-imagined is the purgatory of sorts that Henry, the truck driver, must endure after he fails to come forward after the accident. Reminiscent of Wim Wenders's film Wings of Desire, Henry's nature, longings and environs paint a poignant picture of souls in need of redemption. While some readers may find one of the novel's final revelations less original than the rest of the story, Wiersema gets nearly everything else right, and the result is an engaging, emotionally resonant read. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Review

“In this impressive debut, Wiersema crafts an intelligent, contemplative supernatural thriller replete with well-rounded characters, artless dialogue and a plot that, while imbued with the unexplained, develops organically, revealing its secrets at just the right pace. . . . [Wiersema] tells an engrossing story of flawed but genuinely good people who must bear up under the stress of loss, betrayal, unwarranted miracles and unconventional spiritual warfare. . . . An engaging, emotionally resonant read.”
Publishers Weekly

"…rivetting debut novel…Wiersema has crafted a literary, supernatural thriller that grips the reader in a chokehold on page one and doesn’t let go until the very last line…Before I Wake is a classic thriller: creepy in all the right places and deliciously suspenseful. Beyond that, it has great emotional depth and resonance."
The Globe and Mail


"Before I Wake is a stunning debut. Robert Wiersema's novel is original, thought-provoking and downright wonderful."
–Michael Connelly, author of The Closers and The Lincoln Lawyer

"Through a tale that is both intimate and profound, Robert J. Wiersema reminds us there is magic in truth, and truth in the fantastic. Before I Wake is an edge-of-your-seat debut that is never faint of heart."
–Ami McKay, author of The Birth House

"I wept over this book as I read it, and I'm still haunted by it. Wiersema’s compassion for us all shines through in writing that is vivid and very often disturbingly powerful. He is a beautiful writer, and this is a beautiful book."
–Gail Anderson-Dargatz, author of The Cure for Death by Lightning, A Recipe for Bees and A Rhinestone Button

"I read this book in less than three days, over the Christmas holidays with a house full of family and friends, and every time I had to put it down, I found myself compiling lists of people for whom I wanted to buy it. It captured me from the opening page and kept me going, wanting more, because it is a wonderful story, superbly told. The tight, tersely written chapters with their constantly changing points of view had me totally enthralled, because the characters are all utterly believable; every one of them rings true, with no miscues. A wonderful novel from a storyteller who knows what being a master of the craft entails."
–Jack Whyte, author of the Dream of Eagles series

"Inventively told using cinematic jump cuts and fantastical interventions, Before I Wake provocatively dances along the lines between faith and science, life and death. Robert Wiersema’s first novel shows a writer possessed with the kind of storytelling instincts that make you care about the answer to the one question that really counts: What happens next?"
–Andrew Pyper, author of The Wildfire Season

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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read! Aug. 21 2006
By Hannah
Format:Hardcover
Once I had read the first page of this book I had a very hard time putting it down. I was immediately drawn in by the characters; their thoughts, their stories, their plights. The magic of Before I Wake lies not only in masterfully drawn characters and plot, but also in the author’s ability to create seamless transitions among a handful of narrators. Understanding each character so deeply gives the reader a 360 degree view of the story and makes for a book that you will want to read in one sitting.

Questions raised by Wiersema in this novel show an insight into what it means to be human; what it means to ask questions to which there are no certain answers, to long for things we cannot have, to look for meaning in tragedy and hope in heartache.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a great read! Aug. 20 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I wanted to read some great books by Canadian authors and was recommended this book. This book had me from the start. I can honestly say that if the book is not something that gets me from the beginning then it will collect alot of dust. I loved this book and the way that the story unfolded. When the miracles started happening, I was sure that a great miracle was to occur at the end. The ending - which I will not spoil for others - brought tears to my eyes. Thank you Mr. Weirsema for a great read and now onto the Bedtime Story which I am half way through!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely mind blowing! Nov. 10 2008
Format:Paperback
I was haunted by this book from the first 2 pages. The gripping way the author writes about the accident brought me to tears.
It was a very interesting book and I loved the way Wiersema told the story from everyone's perspective.
I would recommend this to anyone. My hubby (NOT a reader) is reading it now after the way I talked about it!
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