The Starfish People – A Bittersweet Exceptional Debut Novel
Rating: 5 of 5 – TMBOA recommended book!!
Author: Leann Marshall
Available: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle
After years of being haunted by a recurring nightmare where she is drowning, Sera Muir’s life is an empty shell. The nightmare is unrelenting and repeated therapy has proven to be unsuccessful. Sera moves through life without meaning, unable to hold anything more than a menial job. Her one promising relationship for love and happiness is doomed due to her water phobia caused by her all consuming dream.
Sera is convinced by Dr. Moore, her therapist, that perhaps her dream is not a dream but rather a memory – a memory of a drowning in a previous life. In the year 2202, science has advanced such that one has the ability to trace their life energy signature back in time. Dr. Moore identifies Sera’s past life signature in a woman named Melissa James. Through research, they discover that Melissa dies in a drowning accident which is the likely cause of Sera’s nightmare. An experimental procedure, Kinetic Regression Travel, may allow Sera to return back in time to witness what happens to Melissa so that she can finally break free of the hold this nightmare has on her.
However, for her journey to be successful, Sera must be extremely careful to only observe events of the past and not interfere with them or the result may be catastrophic. Desperate for finding meaning and searching for a way forward, Sera agrees. Ironically, after traveling back to 1973, for perhaps the first time in her life, Sera is anything but an observer. In fact, in a period of only a couple of days, Sera connects so deeply with those she meets, she begins to finally live life. The ultimate choice she makes and its impact transforms herself and those around her.
The Starfish People by Leann Marshall is a beautifully written novel. The characters are marvelously developed and lovingly conveyed to the reader as if paying tribute to their tragic lives. I was moved by each of them and haunted by the bittersweet ending. Marshall’s insights into the human condition are thoughtfully written. One of my favorite quotes comes from Willie:
“Maybe you understand why somebody is the way they is, and maybe you don’t understand them at all. But folks all got their own ways about them – good and bad. And that’s all there is to it in this life, you know. We all just trying to find our way.”
It is only through her past, that Sera finds her way.
Not only did I enjoy reading this novel, but I found myself frequently thinking about it’s characters, themes, and what might have been, making it clear to me why this novel was awarded a 2008 IPPY Silver Medal. This is an extremely good debut novel and Marshall proves she is a very capable author.
I suppose my one complaint would be that I longed for more. The novel is a brief 138 pages and I know that I could have spent even more time in Marshall’s world. If you like novels from Oprah’s book club, put this one on your shelf. You will grow and care about the characters more than those in The House of Sand and Fog and the outcome will be more satisfying than Drowning Ruth. I anxiously await the release of Leann Marshall’s next offering.