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Thursday, January 16, 2020

Authentic and Compelling, Oakley's Latest an Enjoyable Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

For years, Mia Graydon has had recurring dreams starring the same dark-haired man.  A man who is not her husband.  She hasn't thought a lot of it as her life has taken its own dream-like path toward fulfillment.  With a strong marriage to a handsome doctor, a spacious house (picket fence and all) in a quaint new town, a private studio which will allow for hours of peaceful painting, and a baby on the way after two miscarriages, Mia is experiencing the joy of hope and possibility unfurling before her.  It feels as if anything could happen in her happy, privileged life. 

Then, the unexpected occurs—Mia sees the man from her dreams.  To her absolute astonishment, Oliver is a real, flesh-and-blood person.  A nice one to boot and one with whom she feels instantly comfortable.  Even more amazing, he has been dreaming of her too.  As the two puzzle out the meaning (or lack thereof) behind their odd connection, Mia's orderly life starts to veer off the rails.  With things falling apart in her real life, her dreams of Oliver start to seem more and more appealing.  When it comes to a choice between salvaging her reality and chasing what could be, what will Mia ultimately decide to do?

You Were There Too, a new novel by Colleen Oakley, explores the intriguing question of what if?  It uses a unique premise to ruminate on common themes like marriage, infertility, grief, guilt, and familiarity vs. newness in romantic relationships.  The characters come off as authentic (flawed, but relatable), the prose is engaging, and the story compelling.  You Were There Too kept me guessing right up until the unexpected plot twist at the end which seems to come out of nowhere, but is actually inevitable and, when you think about it, not entirely surprising.  Overall, then, I found You Were There Too to be an engrossing, funny, poignant novel about love, loss, and the strange "coincidences" of life that maybe aren't so coincidental after all.  

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of novels by Joshilyn Jackson and Katherine Center)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (a few F-bombs, plus milder expletives), mild sexual content, and violence

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of You Were There Too from the generous folks at Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!
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