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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)
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“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.”
"…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