“Deja Vu,” by Michal Hartstein
Published: January 24, 2016
“Deja Vu,” by Michal Hartstein, is my most recent read and a very interesting, unique look at a woman’s life. Rose is sixteen years old and wakes up in a hospital with no memories from her life. She has been hit by a car and knows no one that comes in to see her or talk to her, including her parents, best friends Daria and Inbal, and her boyfriend David. Rose is unable to re-establish a connection with David but proceeds through life getting to know and learning to feel love for her family and friends again. As time passes, Rose meets and marries Amir, Daria marries Asi and Inbal marries David (Rose’s childhood sweetheart). Rather than loving life and her marriage, Rose becomes fixated on what she doesn’t have. Jealousy begins to play a part in most of Rose’s life whether related to marriage, career, education, money, or children. She thinks she wants something, but then sees something else someone has and she decides she wants that. She is unsatisfied at work, as a wife, and as a mother. Most importantly, she is jealous of the love between Inbal and David and regrets pushing him away after her accident.
After a tense moment between Rose and David, she is in another accident and wakes up in a hospital sixteen years old again. Her memories prior to being sixteen are still missing, but she recalls everything from the time of being sixteen until she was thirty-two. Now with the mind and soul of an adult woman, she starts over again as a teenager and decides to choose different paths for herself. Regardless of the new choices she makes, there are similarities to her last try as an adult, as well as, struggles and disappointments.
Michal Hartstein’s writing and characters in “Deja Vu” are incredible. This novel is full of such raw, honest emotions even when they are things that Rose shouldn’t think or feel. At times Rose becomes frustrating because it’s as if nothing will ever make her happy, but you still have to respect a woman admitting her unhappiness with things that a woman should just accept according to society. Is everyone supposed to marry? Is everyone supposed to have children and actually enjoy being a parent? Could a second chance at life give you a better chance at happiness? There are so many questions and issues addressed in this novel, but I think it comes down to one thing. We must find and nurture our own happiness, regardless of our paths in life. Changing one thing or the other doesn’t guarantee a happy ending, it all takes work and patience. I highly recommend this novel and look forward to reading more from Hartstein in the future. This novel is a rare example of honest emotion, even if those emotions are not the norm.
Learn more about Michal Hartstein by visiting her web page.