Acclaimed author Colleen Oakley delivers a heart-wrenching and unforgettable love story about a woman who must choose between the man she loves and the man fate has chosen for her, in a novel that reminds us that the best life is one led by the heart.
Mia Graydon's life looks picket-fence perfect; she has the house, her loving husband, and dreams of starting a family. But she has other dreams too—unexplained, recurring ones starring the same man. Still, she doesn’t think much of it, until a relocation to small-town Pennsylvania brings her face to face with the stranger she has been dreaming about for years. And this man harbors a jaw-dropping secret of his own—he's been dreaming of her too.
Determined to understand, Mia and this not-so-stranger search for answers. But when diving into their pasts begins to unravel her life in the present, Mia emerges with a single question—what if?
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
Colleen Oakley is the author of two previous novels, Close Enough to Touch and Before I Go, which were named best books by People, Us Weekly, Library Journal and Real Simple, and both were long-listed for the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize. Oakley is also the former senior editor of Marie Claire and editor in chief of Women's Health & Fitness. Her articles, essays and interviews have been featured in the New York Times, Ladies' Home Journal, Marie Claire, Women's Health, Redbook, Parade and Martha Stewart Weddings. She lives in Georgia with her husband, four kids and the world's biggest lapdog.
Read an Excerpt
The office is cool and sparsely decorated. I count the plants (three), watch the second hand of the brass clock on the bookshelf make two full circles on its axis, stare at the large canvas on the wall, a lone red smear of paint in the center. I look anywhere but directly at Nora, the pristine, chignoned, straight-backed woman sitting in the executive chair across the desk from me—not because she’s flipping through my portfolio and I’ve never quite gotten comfortable with witnessing the judgment of my work, but because she’s wearing a neck scarf. Just seeing it, wrapped tightly like a noose, knotted right at her clavicle, makes my skin crawl with anxiety. How do people wear things wrapped around their throats? I’ve never understood it. Even as a kid, if my mom put me in a turtleneck, I would grasp at it, wheezing and crying and carrying on until she let me change.
I’m pretty sure I was strangled to death in a previous life.
Harrison says that’s morbid, but I once heard one of those late-night television psychics say that a lot of the fears we’re born with stem from events in our past lives. Like, if you are terrified of swimming in the ocean, maybe you drowned or were ravaged by a school of piranha or something.
Harrison also says I should stop watching so many of those late-night television psychic shows.
The room is silent, save the sharp machine-gun-fire rapping of Nora’s pen against the desktop. A pattern has emerged. She pauses the pen when she turns a page and then resumes as she gazes— thoughtfully, I hope—at the photos of my paintings.
There are thirteen art galleries in Hope Springs, Pennsylvania (excessive for a town with two thousand inhabitants, if you ask me, and I’m an artist). Only three show contemporary work, this one, and two others who have already turned down my paintings. Translation? This is kind of my last shot. But I’m hopeful, because at least here, I actually have a third-degree personal connection— my old college professor Rick Haymond called in a favor to a friend, who in turn called Nora, and now here I am.
“Yes?” I say, meeting her eyes.
“Is this a portrait of . . . Keanu Reeves?”
I clear my throat. “Um . . . yes.”
Her pen stills. She looks up at me, expectantly.
“That was part of my latest series.”
She waits, and I clear my throat again.
“Have you ever watched The $25,000 Pyramid?” I ask.
“The game show.”
“I—I believe so.” She narrows her eyes, unsure of where this is going.
“You know how the celebrities start saying a bunch of random words, like ‘wheels, buttons, beach balls,’ and then the contestant has to guess what the category is—like, in this example: Things That Are Round?”
“Well, I find that fascinating—the groupings of seemingly unrelated things that actually do have something in common. That’s how I choose the themes for my series.”
She continues to stare at me, and I can’t decide if she’s perplexed or bored. “And Keanu Reeves?”
“The theme was: Things That Are Mediocre.”
Her eyes remain locked on mine, but she doesn’t respond. She reminds me of a detective on one of those cop shows, the patient one, willing to wait out the suspect. I cave. I would be a terrible criminal. “Also in that series is the orange Tootsie Pop.”
“The orange Tootsie Pop,” she repeats.
“Right, because orange isn’t bad, but it’s nobody’s favorite, right? And then, let’s see, Capri pants, store-bought tomatoes—that’s why I painted them with the sticker still on—Easter . . .” She breaks eye contact as I’m speaking so I trail off.
Then, more to the desk than to me, she says: “How . . . interesting.” But the way Nora’s voice goes down at the end and not up in praise is how I know she doesn’t really think it is interesting. And how I know that I’m not going to get a showing at this gallery, either.
When I step back out into the midday June heat, I nearly run smack into two guys linked arm in arm. The one in man sandals and teal gingham shorts pulls the other back to let me pass. “I’m so sorry,” I say, as my hand goes to my stomach, a protective mother’s instinct for the fetus currently residing there, then I scoot around the men and out onto the street. Dodging in and out of other well-dressed tourists, I pass a chocolatier, an olive oil boutique and a store that sells nothing but spices. Seventeen kinds of salt! I whispered to Harrison when we, too, were another one of those tourist couples five months ago, and ducked in to look around. I never knew there was more than one. Having known me and my lack of culinary skills for the better part of eight years, this did not surprise him.
On Mechanic Street, the cell in my shoulder bag vibrates and I dig it out. A text from Harrison.
How’d it go?
I scroll through my gifs until I find a picture of an army tank and text it back.
That bad? Did you wear the lucky dress?
I hold the phone at arm’s length, making sure my prize possession—a yellow wrap dress I scored at a thrift store and was wearing the night I met Harrison—is in the frame and press send. Not so lucky, I guess.
I slip the phone into the front pocket of my portfolio case, exchanging it for my car keys. Then I unlock the door to my Toyota, get in, turn the key and start the fifteen-minute trek home.
Five months ago, Harrison and I decided to move to this tiny town on a whim, which sounds like something I would do, but not Harrison. It was January, in Philadelphia, and it was snowing. Again. The kind of cold, wet snow that seeps into your clothes and your bones and makes you want to never leave your apartment, and if you do, makes you feel like you’re never going to be warm again.
“Let’s get out of here,” Harrison said one Friday afternoon, when he got home from an extra-long shift at the hospital. He had had a tough few weeks, long hours on top of losing an eight-year-old boy during a routine emergency appendectomy. He didn’t talk about it much—he never does—but I could tell it affected him.
“And go where?” I asked.
“Anywhere but here,” he said.
Harrison is not the spontaneous type, so I immediately agreed. We drove north on 95 and ended up in Hope Springs, a tiny town west of the Delaware River. It was full of more antique stores and art galleries than any town needs, and I was drunk on its charm, and the way that the snow, for some mysterious reason, didn’t quite feel so wet and cold and was piled up in pretty white mounds alongside the road instead of the gray, slushy heaps we were accustomed to. By Sunday, when we were packing up to leave, and dreading the drive back to the city, I said, “I wish we could live here,” which is what I say every time we go on vacation anywhere. Harrison said, “We can.”
Then he said he’d been thinking about it for months—how the city hospital was so stressful and how maybe at a smaller hospital he could scale back, breathe a little—so why not now and why not in Hope Springs. And maybe it was because I had just had my second miscarriage and my first huge career failure and all of those things happened in Philadelphia and not in Hope Springs, or maybe because I really was convinced that the snow here was less cold and less wet and more beautiful, or maybe because the name of the town, Hope Springs, suddenly seemed significant, like an omen, but I said, “OK.” And though it took a few months of interviews and tying up loose ends in Philadelphia, that’s how we ended up moving from the apartment we’d lived in together for seven years and living here.
Two right angles of white picket fencing flank our driveway, which is the only way I know where to turn, since everything on the two-lane road that runs past our house looks exactly the same—green and tree-lined. I pull the car between them and roll slowly over the gravel until the stone house comes into view. It’s a renovated three-bedroom farmhouse from the 1800s, so it has that great mix of old-world charm and a Sub-Zero fridge. The studio—a detached one-car garage behind the house—has windows on all four sides. Amazing light. That’s what sold me on it. Or maybe it was simply the idea of having my own studio, instead of a one-hundred-square-foot den that also held a TV, a small bookcase and a futon, all flecked with hardened bits of acrylic paint, shellac, egg yolk (from an ill-advised DIY tempera phase) and various other substances from my artistic endeavors over the years.
The futon. Where, in my early twenties, I ate countless bowls of buttered noodles and slices of Nutella toast and watched reruns of Family Feud and then, in my late twenties, made furious love to Harrison on his all-too-short breaks home from his surgical residence shifts at Thomas Jefferson. Harrison convinced me to give the futon to charity when we moved—It’s starting to smell, he said, gently, as if he was trying to talk me into euthanizing a beloved pet whose quality of life had deteriorated. And now instead of turning the car off and going into my studio to paint, which is what I should do, I have the sudden urge to turn my rusted Corolla around and drive to every single Goodwill store between here and Philadelphia until I find the futon and bring it home.
“Sorry I’m late,” Harrison says when he walks through the front door that evening around nine, even though it’s the third time that week he’s gotten home past dark. Harrison’s one of only four general surgeons on staff at the Fordham hospital, which serves not only the eight thousand residents of Fordham, but many of the surrounding smaller towns, including Hope Springs. Though he said a smaller hospital would mean a slower pace, lately it’s seemed like the opposite is true. He tosses his keys on top of an overturned cardboard box in the foyer that serves as our entry table, since I haven’t gotten around to buying one.
Harrison leans over the back of the butter-yellow sofa I’m sitting on—one of the few new things I have managed to purchase for the house. I offer him my cheek and he kisses it, his full beard (also new since we moved here) scratching my face.
“Did your day get any better?” he asks.
He heads toward the kitchen, where I hear the fridge door open and then the muffled pop of a beer bottle being unscrewed. When he reappears in the doorframe, the beer’s turned up at his lips. He takes three deep mouthfuls, pausing to swallow in between.
“I think I’m killing the tomatoes,” I say. The house came with a large vegetable and herb garden that hadn’t been tended to since the previous owner moved out. I planned to care for it, starting with weeding, but then realized I couldn’t exactly tell what was a weed and what was a plant. And then the irrigation system stopped working. And rabbits or rodents or bugs started having their share until each leaf (on plants and weeds) looked like Swiss cheese. And I realized that gardening actually takes a concerted effort and I have no idea what I’m doing.
“Well, I’m sure they deserve it,” he says.
“Harrison. I’m serious. The leaves are yellow, which according to this website I’ve been reading means they’re getting too much water or not enough or there’s a lack of nitrogen in the soil or they’re diseased.”
“Huh,” he says. “That narrows it down.”
I stare at his profile, taking in his black square-rimmed glasses, his undone bowtie, the ends hanging loose on either side of his unbuttoned collar like a disheveled groom, the ruffian beard that I’m still getting used to—and I get that fleeting inkling of wonder that I ended up with him. I had a type— and Ph.D. educated was not it. I preferred guys that had gigs to real jobs, missed rent payments. Abandonment issues were a bonus. But to be fair, Harrison was wearing a Skid Row T-shirt and standing in an art gallery when I met him, so it wasn’t clear off the bat he was a functioning member of society.
I smile, remembering how it used to be, in the beginning. The anticipation of seeing him. The pure thrill of reading his name on caller ID or hearing his knock at the door. It’s unsustainable of course, that level of elation and delight. Infatuation is like a rushing river that over time either dries up to a trickle and then nothing at all, or begins wearing its way into the earth, until one day it’s a deep, yawning canyon.
Harrison and I are lucky.
We’ve got the canyon.
“You know— it’s weird.” He slides his beer onto the antique trunk that doubles as our coffee table and sinks into the couch cushion beside me. “They should have stores that sell gardening supplies and are staffed with people knowledgeable about plants that could help novices in situations just like this.”
I jab my elbow to the side, connecting with his stomach. “Oof,” he says, then grabs my hand, lacing his fingers through mine. He gently turns it over. Looks at it. Rubs his thumb over the red and blue splotches. “D’you paint today?”
“A little,” I say. And by little, I mean forty-five minutes. Though it was Harrison’s idea that I focus on my art when we moved here, I haven’t had a serious session or painted anything decent in the five weeks since we pulled the yellow Ryder truck up to the front curb. At first, I told myself it was because we were getting settled. But at this point, I know it’s something more… permanent. A zap to my confidence that started when that mustachioed Phillip Gaston typed “an incohesive amateur display relying too heavily on an overly clever theme, without the talent to add depth and substance” regarding my first-ever solo exhibition in Philadelphia last year.
“Did you wear a mask?”
He’s teasing me. I’ve been extra-cautious with this pregnancy— to the point of asking Harrison if he thought the fumes of the acrylics I work with could be bad for a developing fetus. He said no, but even after he showed me proof online that they were safe to use while pregnant, I wondered aloud if I should wear a mask anyway.
“I didn’t,” I say. “Do you think I should have?”
“No,” he says, and then pauses, a half-grin on his lips. “But if our baby comes out with twelve toes, we’ll know why.”
We sit in silence for a minute, the words “our baby” hanging in the air. At least they are for me. I think of the two babies that we lost, and suck in a lungful of air to steady myself. I had no idea how much I could grieve the loss of something I never really had. A person I never met. But I do. I am. And I wonder if the sadness will lessen with time— or if the fear of losing yet another will ever dissipate. I place my hand on my belly, silently willing this one to stay.
As if reading my mind, Harrison wraps his long arm around me, pulling me to his chest. They were out of his regular deodorant when I was at the store on Tuesday, so I picked out a new scent and the soapy pine forest tang of it tickles my nose. I burrow my head into him, as if I could tunnel a path and stay there for all of eternity. “You smell good.”
“Really? I thought it was a little teenager-drenched-in-dad’s-cologne-ish.”
“No,” I say. And even though it’s different, a new scent, it’s still him. Still my Harrison. “It’s you.”
Reading Group Guide
YOU WERE THERE TOO by Colleen Oakley
Questions for discussion
1. Near the beginning of the book, Mia admits she’s been dreaming about a man on and off for most of her adult life. Have you ever had any recurring dreams? What do they mean to you?
2. When we meet Mia, she tells her sister, “It doesn’t feel like this is where I’m supposed to be.” Why do you think she feels that way?
3. Mia and Harrison suffer a third miscarriage. What does the way they handle it tell you about their relationship? Do you think they have a strong marriage?
4. When Mia runs into Oliver a second time, he offers to help her with her garden and after spending the day with him, she realizes she feels like she’s known him forever. Have you ever felt that way when you first met somebody? What, if anything, do you think it means?
5. After Harrison misses Mia’s first appointment with the fertility specialist, she thinks, “The downside of being a surgeon’s wife isn’t just the long hours, but that strangers’ misfortunes can impact you so greatly.” Do you think there are any circumstances where the demands of one partner’s job should be more important than the marriage?
6. When Mia and Harrison have dinner with Caroline and Oliver, she inevitably compares Oliver with her husband. Did you note any similarities between the two men? What are the biggest differences between them?
7. Mia decides not to tell her husband right away when Oliver confesses to dreaming about her too. Do you think it’s a betrayal? Should spouses tell each other everything? Or is it sometimes understandable to keep something to yourself?
8. Even though Harrison said he needed time, Mia continues to seek out information about IVF. Do you think she’s being too pushy or is Harrison not being supportive enough?
9. On their mini getaway in New Jersey, Mia describes marriage as being like her television from childhood: “The connection gets loose sometimes—even to the point where you think it might not work anymore—but then something jars it and the wires slip back into place, exactly where they belong, lighting up the screen and bringing back the sound; everything working as it should.” Did that strike you as an accurate description of a marriage?
10. After Mia spies Harrison with Whitney downtown, she remembers that Harrison doesn’t believe in soul mates. What does a soul mate mean to you? 11. In a drunken moment, Harrison finally reveals the burden he’s been carrying for months—that he feels responsible for the death of a young patient. Why do you think he kept this from Mia?
12. When Oliver shows up at Mia’s house, bewildered at the realization that Mia was at his best friend’s wedding years earlier, he repeats a Yogi Berra quote: “This is too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence.” What do you think that means?
13. What qualities do you think Mia needed in a partner? Who did you think was a better match for her?
14. After talking to Raya, Mia drives back to Hope Springs and makes her decision about who she wants to be with. Were you surprised by her choice?
15. Have you ever had a dream that came true before? Do you believe people can truly dream about the future?
16. At the end, when Oliver stops by Mia’s to see how she’s doing, she wonders why Oliver was in her life, and that “maybe Harrison was right—maybe there’s no rhyme or reason to it all.” Why do you think people come into our lives? Do you think it
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.5 stars You Were There Too was a beautifully heartbreaking novel. I was fascinated by the blurb and thought the story would go one way, but it ended up zig zagging a few times and ending in a way that may upset some readers, but that I felt was appropriate and fitting for the story. I will say that I would not classify this book as a romance. It has romance and romantic elements, but I think it would be better labeled as women's fiction. This story was so incredibly relatable. The excitement and exhilaration of new love. The comfort and happiness in the day to day. The struggle and heartache of loss and all the growing pains that go along with creating and maintaining a marriage and family. Harrison and Mia's story really resonated with me and made me reflect on my own marriage and journey to parenthood. My emotions were all over the place and there were times I had to put the book down and simply breathe. It was impacting me so profoundly that I even commented to my husband that the story felt almost too intense at times. I don't want to spoil the book for anyone, so my review will be purposefully vague, but I will say that Colleen Oakley's writing completely blew me away. I highlighted so many passages and I was definitely reaching for the tissues by the end. The majority of the story is told from Mia's POV, but there are some point of view shifts that helped paint a clearer picture of the events, but that I also found a little distracting. I understand that the way this book concluded might not be for everyone, but for me it made sense. I think the greater message of carrying on is so important. We choose every day to fight or run, love or hate. I like the idea of fate and it's inescapable pull, but I think this quote says it best: "That in the random chaos of life, you and I met somehow. And out of everyone else in the world that we know, we choose each other. Every day." You Were There Too is a unique love story that is sure to take readers on an emotional ride. *I voluntarily read an advance review copy of this book*
An emotional heartrending journey of as woman as she journeys through miscarriages and the emotional effect it has on her marriage. She must make a devastating choice, her husband or the man she has been dreaming about for years. This one really pulls on the heartstrings! Published January 7th 2020 by Berkley I was given a complimentary copy of this book. Thank you. All opinions expressed are my own.
You Were There Too by Colleen Oakley. Very sad and emotional read. While the author has a good writing style and the ability to wrest out emotions, the ending was a disappointment. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley for the opportunity to preview the book.
Wow! I am not sure I can add anything new to supplement previous reviews, but Colleen Oakley knocked it out of the park with this novel. Mia keeps having dreams about a man who is not her husband, Harrison. When the couple leaves Philadelphia for New Hope, they are looking forward to starting a new chapter. Harrison is recovering from losing a patient, a young child, while they both anticipate the birth of their new child, a happy surprise after Mia experienced two miscarriages. Unfortunately, this baby is also not to be ,and the after affects cause a riff in Harrison and Mia's message. Mia's dreams continue, but real life and dreamworld intermix when Colleen meets the man, Oliver, she has been dreaming about who happens to be the sister of one of her husband's patients. What is more confusing for Mia is that Oliver is also experiencing dreams with Mia in them. The quest to discover what these dreams mean end up having everlasting effects to everyone involved. Oakley's writing is evocative and once I was in Mia's head, I could not put this book down. (The reader also gets a few other POVs, but Mia is the protagonist). Mia is a painter and Oakley paints a wonderful story of marriage and what happens when the glimmer of early romance fades and real life hits. All characters are quite likable and it's difficult for the reader to determine whether Mia should fight to stay with Harrison or see what is behind door number two with Oliver. Other reviews reference the ending. Expect the unexpected. I am already waiting for Oakley's next book.
This book was so heavy in so many ways that I was completely not expecting, and even though the synopsis doesn't lie at all, it still somehow felt like it wasn't really describing the book I read. Colleen Oakley writes beautifully, and I was wholly invested in the story from the first page - but man I was not expecting the heartbreak of this story. Major trigger warnings with infertility and miscarriage; I have never read about them in such an unflinchingly honest and real way. I have conflicting feelings on the relationships of almost all of the characters, but I did like that there was no infidelity in any of the relationships, as that's rarely a trope that ends up working well for me. It's hard to really talk about this book without giving something away, but I would say the main takeaway is that even though it was sad, I think it was written beautifully and worth the read. Just have the tissues handy! Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for the gifted book and opportunity to read and review it prior to its publication date! This in no way affected my review, all opinions are my own.
This is the story of both a marriage and the circle of life…or is it all just quantum physics? In this heart-wrenching novel, Oakley explores the meaning and significance of dreams, the challenges of marriage, the impacts of grief and guilt, and the idea that love is both infinite and cyclical. As the book opens, artist Mia and her surgeon husband Harrison have recently moved out of Philly to a small PA town after he loses a young patient on the operating table. Shortly afterwards, Mia suffers her 3rd miscarriage and both events begin to put a strain on their marriage, although their love is a steady presence. However, the dreams and nightmares she’s been having since high school featuring the same man are a guilty secret she keeps from Harrison. When she meets Oliver in real life, the surreal connection between them makes her begin to question both her sanity and the purpose of their connection. Oakley masterfully combines the often painful realities of love with the unexplainable and unprovable mysteries of the subconscious, deftly using metaphors, rich dialogue, and descriptive characterizations to weave a tragic, yet magical love story that leaves us hoping for a sequel. I received a complimentary ARC of this book from Berkley Publishing through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed are completely my own.
"...ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ ʀᴀɴᴅᴏᴍ ᴄʜᴀᴏs ᴏғ ʟɪғᴇ, ʏᴏᴜ ᴀɴᴅ ɪ ᴍᴇᴛ sᴏᴍᴇʜᴏᴡ. ᴀɴᴅ ᴏᴜᴛ ᴏғ ᴇᴠᴇʀʏᴏɴᴇ ᴇʟsᴇ ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ ᴡᴏʀʟᴅ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ᴡᴇ ᴋɴᴏᴡ, ᴡᴇ ᴄʜᴏᴏsᴇ ᴇᴀᴄʜ ᴏᴛʜᴇʀ ᴇᴠᴇʀʏ ᴅᴀʏ.” • to @NetGalley and @berkleypub for my ARC copy in exchange for my honest review! • Get your tissues out. A heart-breaking/warming/wrenching story of grief, love, fate, and choice. This book pulls you into each emotion and makes you ponder the difference between the life you thought you might have and the life you’re really living. I will be picking up more @writercolleenoakley books for sure. is now on sale! I recommend adding this one to your 2020 TBR pile! 4/5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ View my photo for this book on Instagram: @cvillebooksandwine • Mia Graydon's life looks picket-fence perfect; she has the house, her loving husband, and dreams of starting a family. But she has other dreams too—unexplained, recurring ones starring the same man. Still, she doesn’t think much of it, until a relocation to small-town Pennsylvania brings her face to face with the stranger she has been dreaming about for years. And this man harbors a jaw-dropping secret of his own—he's been dreaming of her too. Determined to understand, Mia and this not-so-stranger search for answers. But when diving into their pasts begins to unravel her life in the present, Mia emerges with a single question— what if?
I was pleased to recieve an ARC of Colleen Oakley's "You Were There Too." I read "Close Enough To Touch" last year and was totally enchanted by the characters and their lives. "You Were There Too" is equally absorbing. The story opens on Mia as she struggles out from under the limp body covering her to find someone she's been frantically searching for. Flashback to her unsuccessful interview at an art gallery in Hope Springs, Pennsylvania and her dejected return home to her husband, Harrison, and their gorgeous new farm house. Harrison is a surgeon, they met at a party and fell in love, were married and have been trying to have a baby. Mia has suffered through several miscarriages and is at loose ends. They obviously love eachother deeply, but Mia is continuously disturbed by her dreams of a devastatingly handsome man - not her husband. Soon after leaving the city for Hope Springs, Mia and Harrison are invited to dinner by one of Harrison's pregnant patients. Mia is shocked to meet the brother, Oliver, who is identical to the man in her dreams. As Mia struggles to find meaning in her life and in the dreams, she becomes closer to Oliver and obsessed with interpretting the dream relationship. She almost misses Harrison's descent into depression related to an incident at the hospital that happened more than a year earlier. Mia has a lot of choices to make and some difficult decisions as her relationship with Oliver grows stronger and her relationship with her husband declines. In spite of the gravity of the situations, Oakley has created very likeable characters and draws you into the story, making it very difficult to put the book down. The love and affection between Mia and Harrison is evident without being smarmy or cloying. The conclusion was not at all what I expected in the best way. I enjoyed reading "You were Therre Too" as will fans of Oakley's other books and anyone who enjoys contemporary fiction. Oakley also includes provocative discussion questions, making this an excellent book club selection.
An enchanting story about life, love, commitment and the complications of marriage and relationships. Mia and Harrison are wanting to start a family but Mia has had several miscarriages. Mia is an artist and Harrison is a surgeon. They moved to a smaller town so Harrison would have less stress in a working environment. He lost a young patient during a routine appendectomy and felt himself to blame. They visited a fertility expert and discover that the fault lies with Harrison, a mismatch of genes. He finally confesses to Mia that he does not want to have children. It may be that he felt the loss of his young patient to an extreme degree and did not trust himself to be a good father but Mia is devastated. The relationship is further complicated because Mia has been dreaming about the same man for years, not her husband. Then, one day, she comes face to face with him, Oliver, and he has been dreaming of her. Together they do some research into dreams. Harrison is not sure he buys into the mutual dreaming, but tries to be supportive. I did love the story and the emotional ending tore me up. Highly recommend. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
***I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. I voluntarily reviewed this book and all opinions are my own. You Were There Too by Colleen Oakley is an intriguing look into dreams and their possibilities. Mia has been dreaming about a man she has never met for years. One day this man from her dreams walks into her grocery store. It's a small town and after bumping into each other a few times Mia discovers that Oliver also recognized her. He has been dreaming about her. What could this mean? Mia is happily married and finding these dreams very confusing. Together Mia and Oliver begin to research the possible meaning behind two people dreaming about each other even though they are complete strangers. This book is beautiful and I absolutely loved it. Dreams and destiny are fascinating subjects. The characters are likable and realistic. I will be thinking about this thought provoking book for a while. Thank you to Netgalley and Berkley Publishing Group for the opportunity to read and review this book. Romance Women's Fiction Release date: January 7, 2020
This emotional, unpredictable story requires the reader to suspend disbelief for a while as it delves into the world of dreams and premonitions. Delving in to the world of dream interpretation, shared dreams, and the metaphysical, the novel explores the shared world of Mia, a young woman suffering from multiple miscarriages and some mental instability and Oliver, a free-spirited soul who works on organic farms around the world. Mia’s everyday life at home with her husband, Dr. Harrison Graydon, changes significantly after their recent move from the city to a much smaller town. As she struggles to adjust to the changes and the miscarriages, she fails to see the reality of her husband’s struggles as well. The tale takes some complex turns at times and keeps the reader guessing as to where these compound paths will lead. Read this interesting book to find out the how and why of Mia and Oliver’s shared dreams and the shattering aftermath when their premonitions begin to unfold. Share their dark dreams and enticing dreams as they work through this strange phenomenon. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. This is my first novel by Colleen Oakley and definitely will not be my last. This ARC copy was received from Berkley and Netgalley.com. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own. #YouWereThereToo #NetGalley
3.5 stars: Mia love her husband Harrison and ready to start a family. Oliver is the man Mia dreams about, a man who she has never met, until one day. Mia is in Oliver's dreams, Oliver doesn't know who she is, until one day. What do the dreams mean, was a mistake made. What do dreams mean. Thanks to Berkley Publishing Group Penguin Random House. Thank you! @ColleenOakley for the ARC.
YOU WERE THERE TOO – Colleen Oakley Berkley ISBN: 9781984806468 January 2020 Fiction Pennsylvania – Present Day Mia is an artist married to Harrison, a surgeon. They have just moved from Philadelphia to the small town of Hope Springs, PA, and Mia is trying to get one of the art galleries in town to show her work. But her modern paintings don’t seem to inspire any of the gallery owners. Harrison is supportive, however he has a busy practice at the local hospital, and Mia is feeling unsettled and unproductive. On top of that, she just had her second miscarriage. Settling into her new house, Mia decides to resurrect the failing garden where the tomato plants are dying. She goes to the local garden store, gets help from one of the employees who sends her to the grocery store for Epsom salts, and, as she’s heading out the door, there he is! The “he” is the very man she has seen in her dreams for years. He appears in various scenarios, but it’s always the same guy. Stunned, Mia shakes it off and leaves. When Mia has another miscarriage, she notices a change in Harrison. He has not spoken to her much about an eight year old boy who died during a routine surgery Harrison performed. But now it becomes apparent that the most recent miscarriage has triggered something in Harrison’s mind. As they sit in the OB/GYN office to discuss the future, though, there is that guy again, the man in her dreams. Ironically, he is with a woman whose life Harrison saved. His name is Oliver, he is a freelance writer, and he seems to know Mia too. YOU WERE THERE TOO is a really intriguing and very different story. Mia and Oliver soon set out to discover how and why they know each other. Mia is skeptical about what a psychic tells her, but her dreams seem to be telling her something. As Harrison withdraws emotionally, Mia is even more determined to find answers, even if the final result is not what she wants. A shocking conclusion left me drained, which told me just how beautifully written this tale is. Start the year off with YOU WERE THERE TOO, you won’t regret it.
Colleen Oakley's You Were There Too was the story of a young woman who seemed to have it all. You Were There Too made the reader suspicious about where Ms. Oakley was going with this book and how it was going to end. Then a little more than halfway through *bam* things started happening faster. The plot started moving like an avalanche. The ending was a total shock. The characters and the main concept were interesting. I would recommend You Were There Too.
This was an interesting book written by one of my favorite authors. The storyline is different than your typical novels about married life and kept me eagerly reading to see what life had in store for them. The highs and lows of the main characters are deeply felt by the author’s writing style. The ending was unexpected but it tied together a lot of loose ties but not necessarily the way you wanted it to end. The author does a great job making you feel for the characters and leaves you contemplating the ending.
Pensive, fresh, and absolutely heart-wrenching! You Were There Too is a moving, mysterious tale that takes us into the life of Mia Graydon, a young, married woman struggling with the recent move to a small-town, a marriage strained by multiple miscarriages and stressful careers, secrets, depression, and the sudden real-life appearance of the man of her dreams. The prose is heartfelt and immersive. The characters are flawed, troubled, and genuine. And the multi-layered, unpredictable plot is an absorbing tale about life, loss, love, grief, friendship, relationship dynamics, forgiveness, hope, happiness, and romance all interwoven with a thread of the paranormal. Overall, You Were There Too is a compelling, heartbreaking, thought-provoking novel that reminds us that life is complicated and messy, the choices we make often have far-reaching consequences, and sometimes, perhaps, things are truly just destined to happen.
Mia and Harrison have the perfect life. A new home in the suburbs, and a baby on the way. Until Mia suddenly sees him in the local Giant. The man she has seen in her dreams for years is suddenly there in the flesh. Through some odd circumstances, Oliver and Mia get to know each other and Oliver reveals his own secret, he dreams of her too. So begins their quest to find out what this is all supposed to mean. But will heading down this road with Oliver derail Mia’a perfect life? Dios Mio. This book. This was my 150th book for the year and it completed my goodreads challenge. I wanted an amazing read to finish my challenge and this one did not disappoint. I absolutely loved this book. I have always been fascinated by dreams so I was incredibly drawn to that aspect of the story, but I was also captivated by all of the characters. This is one I wish I could forget and read from the beginning for the first time again!
Mia Graydon has had recurring dreams about the same man for years and brushes them off as meaningless, until she meets the man in person. Turns out he dreams of her too. This could prove to be happily ever after, if Mia wasn’t already happily married to someone else. Colleen Oakley’s new novel had me hooked from the first page! I’m not usually a big fan of romance novels unless the main character has a brain in her head and the story is dynamic, luckily You Were There Too met both of my prerequisites. The storyline was an accurate portrayal of marriage, all the ugly and beautiful moments. I haven’t cried while reading in such a long time, but this ending did me in! Lastly, I want to include a disclaimer without giving too much away: miscarriage is a recurring theme in the book. Thank you to Berkley Publishing Group and NetGalley for allowing me to read this advanced reader’s edition in exchange for an honest review. Read-A-Likes: This book is like a mash-up of The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller & Dark Matter by Blake Crouch.
I actually very rarely read contemporary, but Colleen Oakley books are the exception to the rule. Her writing style is very straight forward wich makes it easier to read. I liked how gut-wrenching this book was.
This lovely novel tricks you into thinking it's a simple story about a woman who has reoccurring dreams about a man she's never met, only to meet him and discover that he's dreaming of her. However, this book is so much more than that, and I don't want to say too much, because the ending of this book is so emotional and so perfect, and I don't dare say anything that could spoil it. The characters are well developed, and I appreciate how everyone is flawed (including the main character Mia), but there are no "bad guys." These are real people grappling with fertility issues, coping with difficult issues (Mia's miscarriages; Harrison works as a surgeon), identity (Mia, an artist, is having a hard time making her career work). It's not clear who we should be rooting Mia will end up with: her husband Harrison or the dream man Oliver. Really enjoyed this read.
I received a digital galley of YOU WERE THERE TOO by Colleen Oakley for an honest review. Thank you to Berkley Publishing and Edelweiss for the chance to read and review! YOU WERE THERE TOO focuses on Mia Graydon. She seems to have the perfect life and the perfect marriage to those outside and looking in. What others may not see is that there are cracks in her marriage. She desperately wants a baby, but she has lost several pregnancies and this has created strain in her marriage. Her husband is dealing with his own difficulties at work as well. Mia and her husband have moved to a small town, hoping to find a more peaceful life. Another element of Mia’s life is her dreams. She has been having ongoing dreams featuring one man who she doesn’t know, but knows is not her husband. She dismisses them for the most part until she is standing in the market and sees the man she has been dreaming of for so long. Even more shocking is the fact that he has been dreaming of her as well. I find the concept of dreams to be very interesting so this book premise called to me. There is a nice element of mystery as Mia and her dream man try to figure out what is behind their dreams. Love triangles can be a big no go for me in books and that is an element here as Mia feels torn between her fragile marriage and the man who seems fated to be in her life. That said, I though that the relationships here were very well done and the difficulty that Mia faced felt very real such that it didn’t bother me at all. Overall this was a book I was very excited to have picked up. It delivered strong characters and a twist I didn’t see coming, a mixture of heartache and sweet moments throughout.
I devoured this book. I picked started reading as soon as I received the book and I couldn’t stop. I was invested in Mia. Harrison and Oliver were important to me also, but I focused on Mia and needed to be sure that she would find happiness and love. I went back and forth on what I wished would happen and I love how it ended. Dreams, I never remember mine, but I know that many do and am intrigued by what they could mean. Mia has been having dreams and then she meets the man from her dreams. Harrison being a doctor had a little more trouble understanding how important this became to Mia. I love his reactions and they were all true to life. While they don’t entirely understand what each other are going through, they never disrespect each other. There are words said in love, anger, and frustration but that is true to most relationships. Colleen Oakley shared a magnificent story that brought characters that were lovable and relatable. I look forward to more from her and am excited to talk about You Were There Too with other book lovers.
A Romance Mingling Dreams and Reality Mia is married to Harrison. She seems to have it all except the baby she longs for. Miscarriages keep happening. In Hope Springs, Mia and Harrison hope to have the life they’ve dreamed of, but strange things happen. For years Mia dreamed about a man. Suddenly he’s there. She never expected to meet Oliver, and the strange thing is that he’s been dreaming of her. Trying to figure out why they have dreams of each other, they spend time together. Are they meant for each other? Mia doesn’t think so, she loves Harrison, but it’s hard to understand what the dreams mean. Sometimes dreams seem more real than reality. At first, this book feels like a typical romance. Two men are interested in the same woman. However, it isn’t that simple. Mia, Harrison, and Oliver are complex characters, and there’s the element of dreams and what they mean. I liked Mia and Harrison and the life they were trying to build. It seemed cruel to have Oliver suddenly appear. I thought the story would revolve around making choices. What do you do when you love your husband, but you meet someone who may be your soulmate? However, it was more complex than that. I felt the author did a good job of building up to the ending, but it didn’t make it easier to accept. This is not an easy book to read, but if you like romance that is more edgy than the typical love triangle, it’s well worth the time. I received this book from Berkley Publishing Group for this review.
Mia has been happily married to her devoted husband Harrison. So why does she keep having these recurring dreams of another man? When this mystery man suddenly appears in her life, Mia doesn’t know what to make of it. She loves her husband, but is drawn to the man of her dreams. What an extraordinary love story! The characters are great and really helped to draw me into this tear jerker of a story. The ending was unexpected, taking me by surprise. I found the information about dreams to be fascinating and the author’s analogy comparing a TV to a marriage is clever. A beautifully wrought and captivating novel.
What Is Meant To Be Will Be This book has a unique premise from the get-go: a happily-married woman has been having dreams of another man for years. No harm, no foul. They are only dreams. The twists begin when she runs into him in real life. Oh, and secondary twist? He's been having dreams of her, too. The out-of-the-ordinary play upon an alternate lives yet "everything happens for a reason" theme, as if you could almost see where the characters might have ended up if they had made different choices, was very appealing. Each character is battling their own internal struggles. And while not being too heavily focused on any one of the minor players, their problems are linked and fleshed out for the best possible understanding of each person. And for good reason, when the ending in revealed. It was gasp-inducing and tear-jerking with a twist ending that I (gratefully) did not see coming. This may have been my first Colleen Oakley novel but it certainly won't be my last. In fact, I wanted to re-read it the second I closed the cover. Five heart-wrenching stars and a huge thank you to BookBrowse, Colleen Oakley, and Berkley Publishing for supplying me with this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.