The Starfish Peopleby Leann Marshall
Gasping, SERA wakes from the nightmare-again.
Her therapist believes that her troubled young patient is reliving the drowning death from a past life in her dreams. When she convinces
Leg muscles burning and arms punching through water and air, hands clawing for something, anything that can pull me up, pull me out, give me a chance-Help me help me help me . . .
Gasping, SERA wakes from the nightmare-again.
Her therapist believes that her troubled young patient is reliving the drowning death from a past life in her dreams. When she convinces Sera to travel back in time to witness the death of that past entity in an effort to break the nightmare's cycle, Sera is faced with a difficult choice: does she stand by and let events unfold as they will, or does she break the rules of time travel and help to save the ones she loves, only to risk everything, including her own life? The choice she makes results in an anomaly so horrible and yet so beautiful, it transforms each of them.
- Xlibris Corporation
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Leann Marshall's "The Starfish People" is such a wonderful writing(recognized for excellence as the Independent Publisher's Books Awards Silver Medal Winner for Science Fiction/Fantasy)one must ask just what it was that could possibly have won the gold? A truly compulsive read leaving behind an energy signature all its own! __ John E. Cashwell
While it isn't unusual to experience recurring dreams over intervals of time, it is unusual for them to nightly-from a point back as far as can be remembered-shake us awake from a wet and inky darkness gasping for air. Theories abound concerning such persistent dreams and most of them point to unresolved matters in our conscious and subconscious mind (past and present) that are trying to get our attention. But what about back in time farther than is comfortable to fathom, much less reach? Enter Sera, the protagonist in first person, nearly 200 years into the future. She's an exhausted, withdrawn, under-achiever frazzled from lack of sleep and ready to pull the plug on years of therapy with her trusted doctor who is trying to help her understand and stop the nightmare cycle. In The Starfish People, Leann Marshall places us into an evolved world where food is primarily a diet from the sea, clothing and adornment is a sprayed-on light show, and shelter remotely resembles a gigantic and more-complex London Eye. There are light cars, biometrics, energy signatures, and time travel. Then again, there are the constants of family, friends, and relationships not fully realized or expressed. When her forward-thinking doctor recommends a last, radical experiment with a narrow window of time that may transport her patient to the actual origin of her nightmare, Sera makes ready to step into the past. In a small North Carolina town on the Atlantic shore she seeks to encounter her former self and accomplish what she must. A cast of characters present themselves a chapter at a time taking the reader deeper and deeper into the person of Sera and her world. Time and people lap and overlap as naturally as waves on the shore, revealing a well-thought out plot with plenty of drama, tension, and surprises. Leann Marshall has a lively imagination with good attention to detail and a knack for the interesting and unexpected. The Starfish People held me captive for nearly nine hours as I flew across its setting-the inky dark Atlantic.
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.