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Thursday, April 12, 2018

#Book #Review: 5 out of 5 stars for Before I Wake by Robert J. Wiersema @robertjwiersema @penguinrandom ‏#VintageCanada #CanadianAuthor

TITLE: Before I Wake
PUBLISHER: Vintage Canada
PUBLICATION DATE: June 12, 2007 (first published 2006)
FORMAT: Paperback
LENGTH: 384 pages
GENRE: Fiction
ISBN: 9780679313748
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.”


I picked up this book at a charity book sale, not knowing anything about the author or the book. It turns out that this is a Canadian author's debut novel, and he completely blew me away!

The story starts off in April 1996, it is surrounds the Barrett family. Simon and Karen tried for years to get pregnant. Their dream came true when Sherry was born, but tragedy struck the family one day when Karen was going for a walk with Sherry who was three years old at the time. As they crossed the street at a crosswalk, the driver of a truck didn't see Sherry until it was too late. He swerved to try to go around her, but he struck her. She had internal injuries and severe trauma to her head, and she survived the surgery but was in a coma and on a respirator. Karen and Simon make the impossible decision to turn off the respirator because the doctor said she was brain dead, but Sherry manages to successfully breathe on her own although still remains in a coma. They make arrangements for homecare and take Sherry home. The relationship between Simon and Karen falls apart. He actually had been having an affair with a younger colleague even before the accident, and Simon moves out of their home and in with his new lover. 

Sherry's homecare attendant notices one day that she no longer has any pain in her hands, and she marvels at the change. She has no idea what took away her pain, but she believes that somehow Sherry healed her. She tells her sister, who has terminal cancer, and invites her to come visit Sherry. She, too, is miraculously healed and the cancer goes into remission. News spreads of Sherry's ability, and the Barrett family is flooded with requests to see Sherry to be healed. Others think that she is an abomination and that it is the devil's work because only God can heal.

This book just absolutely tore my heart out! As a mom, my heart broke for Sherry. I was pissed off at how selfish Simon was, and how he left his family when they needed him the most. Karen truly had the heart of a saint, and she forgave Simon again and again and I'm not sure that I would have been so forgiving! This wasn't just the story of one family's tragedy, but also of good versus evil with the paramount feeling of hope.

Memorable quote:

“Part of life was never getting a chance to say all that you should to someone before they are gone.”

I can't believe this is Wiersema's debut, and I'm so excited to discover a new Canadian author! I have already requested more of his books from the library.


5 stars!! It was superb, and I will likely re-read it. You should definitely put it on your TBR list.

This book qualifies as:
#15 for my Strictly Print Reading Challenge
#8 for my 11th Annual Canadian Book Challenge
#17 for my Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2018
#3 for my Read Your (Book) Shelf Challenge 2018
#26 for my Beat the Backlist 2018 Challenge
#24 for my The Backlist Reader Challenge 2018
#14 for my New Author 2018 Reading Challenge
#15 for my 2018 Try Something New Challenge
#16 for my Full House Reading Challenge 2018
Task #56 for my 2018 Reading Challenge (Linz the Bookworm)
Bonus #6A for my 2018 Literary Escapes Challenge
#26A for my Good Rule Reading Challenge
#6 for my Charity Reading Challenge
#10 for my 2018 Paranormal Reading Challenge
#10 for my Bookish Bingo Spring 2018
Task #20 for my Goodreads Spring 2018 Scavenger Challenge - Umbrellas
#7 for my Chapter Break Bingo March 2018
#8 for my March 2018 Take Control of Your TBR Pile Challenge


  1. I teared up just reading your review. I would need truffles for this.


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