Tag Archives: Robert J. Wiersema

‘Before I Wake’ by Robert J. Wiersema

Guest Post: by Bill Van Geest.  Since I read this book a long time ago and Bill read it more recently, he kindly agreed to write a guest post. I would describe Bill as an avid reader with a great perspective on many things. Thanks Bill!

In “Before I Wake” Robert Wiersema takes a story of ordinary people responding to a tragedy in their lives and turns it into an extraordinary story with a cosmic stage setting. Wiersema’s ‘stage’ is somewhat reminiscent of a C.S.Lewis story:  the normally visible world exists in front of the curtain and the world behind the curtain is experienced only by some of the characters.  The two worlds are woven together throughout the book. In the end, it is a story of unexpected miracles.

The book begins with three-year-old Sherry Bennett falling into a coma after being hit by a truck while walking with her mother.  They hope against hope for a miracle.  Her parents’ marriage has been disintegrating and Sherry’s state appears to make the separation between the couple complete.  Wiersema brings in character after character—each speaking in the first person, and recounting events from their  own perspective.  Some tell the story from one side of the curtain, some from the other.  We hear from Sherry’s father, mother, father’s girlfriend, the truck driver, Sherry’s caregiver and several priests—one false and one true—each with their own response to the tragedy of Sherry’s accident. Some reveal a selfless love and care through their responses while others use the event to battle their own demons; several even to inflict their own demons on others.

A miracle does occur, followed by many others, but not the one which Sherry’s parents had hoped for. Each character responds to the miracles in his or her own way. However much each character responds to the tragedy, the healings appear to flow from a still deeper source than the intent of the characters.

I enjoyed the book as a good story, but also for its boldness and its strangely satisfying conclusion.  The author’s willingness to challenge our assumptions about the way the world works drew me into the story.  Wiersema has not written a morality play. He draws no conclusions philosophically or spiritually, leaving each of the characters to explain their own realities.

‘Bedtime Story’ by Robert J. Wiersema

A good old-fashioned adventurous quest always makes for a compelling read. Although this novel by Wiersema is an adult novel in terms of some of the content, it has a Young Adult “feel” to it. This story is part domestic drama, part supernatural thriller. There are two parallel worlds and two parallel casts of characters. There are lots of twists and turns and maybe a bit of delicious predictability as well, typical of an epic quest.

Christopher Knox discovers a mysterious book which he gives to his son David. While reading the book, his son suffers a seizure and is rendered comatose. What the reader knows is that David has emerged into another world where he is given a challenging quest to recover the sunstone for the King. His father, as yet unenlightened but on a journey to discover this, enters into a quest of his own to save his son. The story gives the phrase “this book draws me right in” a very literal new meaning! (Note: when you start reading don’t be confused by the fact that the boy is Matthew and not David. All will be made clear shortly).

Wiersema is a skillful author. Another book of his which I read is called ‘Before I Wake‘.  Since I read it long ago I can’t comment on it specifically, but I do remember enjoying it. In this story there is also a child in a coma, a daughter. Wiersema himself says that ‘Before I Wake‘ is a story about mothers and daughters and ‘Bedtime Story‘ is a novel about fathers and sons. However, the stories and themes are very different.