Reviewer Valerie Porter: Valerie is a freelance magazine writer and co-author of 5 books. She has also been a freelance book reviewer for a weekly Los Angeles newspaper and has written her own book blog.
She is an avid reader of fiction and non-fiction.
AUTHOR: D. J. Starling
AUTHOR: D. J. Starling
Déjà Vu, a debut novel from author D.J. Starling, is an entertaining blend of modern romance with past life overtones. Both elements are woven together in a highly effective way.
The book tells the story of Deanna Lewis, a former events planner who is in Chicago for her school reunion. She’s spent some happy times with several old school friends, which is just what she needed. She’s still grieving the loss of her parents, who were killed in a tragic accident. Even though it’s been awhile since their passing, her life hasn’t yet gotten back to happiness. The job she loved – the event planning – gave way to a less creative job in insurance. It wasn’t satisfying but didn’t require as much of her heart and soul, either, during her time of mourning. But she feels it’s time to venture out on her own again, and return to event planning.
She is back in the airport now, waiting for her return flight home to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida when the book gets under way.
Also at the Chicago airport waiting for a flight is Josh Haber, a manager of musicians who lives a fast-paced life that leaves little room for any serious personal involvement, and that suits him fine – or so he thinks.
The two meet for only a couple of minutes when exchanging a seat at the bar in an airport restaurant. It’s a brief moment but leaves them both feeling like something special and unexplainable happened.
As chance would have it, we learn some days later that Josh also lives in Ft. Lauderdale. He’s back home again and Deanna is stunned to see his startlingly familiar figure running along the beach.
After one more encounter, which by now doesn’t seem like chance so much as fate, the two strike up a conversation and decide to actually, formally, meet and have dinner. The romantic pull is strong for both of them, even though neither is looking for romance. They are both driven by their careers.
Quickly, though, after only a handful of times together, they’re in love. While Deanna relishes the feeling, Josh begins doubting it. His own parents divorced because they were both so work-oriented that they had no time for both love and career. He doesn’t want the same thing to happen with he and Deanna so decides the time to end it is now. It’s easier said than done – he hurts her when he tells her this, and didn’t realize the void it would leave in his life, either.
A secondary story in Déjà Vu plays a vital role. Deanna has been plagued by nightmares of running from someone but not being able to get away fast enough. The full details never unfold, but she awakens screaming and knowing that it’s a terrifying event. The nightmares began when she was a teenager and are actually stronger now that she’s involved with Josh. That connection might be guessed at by the reader but a connection is not yet made by Deanna.
She has a psychologist friend, Faith, who offers to do a past-life regression, which has been successful with other patients in resolving nightmares and painful memories. At first Deanna’s reluctant but she then turns to Faith in desperation when the frightening events continue to disrupt her sleep time and again.
The regression uncovers startling information about a life in Poland during World War II. Deanna recalls a life as Rivka, a young Jewish teenager who, in the midst of the German invasion and escalating atrocities, finds love with a boy named David. Readers now follow their love story, as they join the resistance movement and hope to escape the war unharmed. They even plan a quick marriage. But a tragedy unfolds…and Deanna awakens from the regression with alarming knowledge about lives cut short.
To reveal more would be to take away some of the beauty from the rest of the book. It does require some belief in reincarnation but Starling is so subtle and adept in weaving the information that it’s not a difficult thing to imagine that past lives are a reality (and to many readers who are believers, this is an easy assumption to make).
This is a beautiful love story with an additional twist that makes for most satisfying reading.