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“It doesn’t feel like this is where I’m supposed to be.”

You Were There Too by Colleen Oakley is our first book by this Author, and what an impact she’s left on our hearts! We were intrigued by the synopsis, however, the story is so much more than what is hinted at. In fact, the synopsis really doesn’t touch the depth of the lives of Mia and Harrison. The emotional psychology and human behaviour in the face of tragedy was brilliantly written. It felt raw and painful to bear witness too. It left us heartbroken at times, yet it showcased strength, resilience, compassion and ultimately healing through love.

‘…he knows one thing for certain: Mia’s sadness is his sadness and he’d carry it around with him like water in a bucket until the end of his days if it meant that she didn’t have to.’

Mia and Harrison have recently settled down in a small town where Harrison continues his surgical career in the local hospital and Mia continues her aspirations of becoming a renowned artist. They are fleeing the city –emotionally- and the move almost serves as a new beginning for them. However, unresolved emotion has a tendency to follow you. Harrison has a heavy weight on his shoulders and Mia cannot escape her dreams, dreams which features a man who she recognises. She needs to know what these dreams mean and we were right there alongside her, marvelling at the vivid imagery and hidden symbolism. Our heart broke for her and we understood her frustration, her confusion and her sadness. Her need to solve a mystery directing her thoughts and feelings away from the intense pain in her heart.

“I dream about you, too.”

Harrison is silently going through a rough time after a grave tragedy for which he blames himself. Not only that, he shares a heart-breaking loss with his wife. Mia, caught up in her own deep sorrow, chasing a dream analysis, is unaware of Harrison’s internal struggle. His erratic behaviour and decisions. Unbeknownst to her, Harrison is suffering, greatly. Whist they have their bad days, never once did we question their love nor their marriage.

‘I learned happiness was a fleeting thing – something that’s here one minute and snatched away the next, like a shooting star or a moonbeam that can’t be caught or held or locked up in a cage.’

Going through life, how many of us have questioned the plausibility of whether there truly is a connection between our dreams and our reality. Whether the extremity of our dreams have a base in some deep-rooted feeling or fear of something yet to come. Many of us have felt déjà vu, subconsciously triggered memories and premonitions or had that nagging gut feeling before something happens. It’s a fascinating area of psychology and we loved how well it was written in this novel. Whilst we absolutely loved You Were There Too, we did feel that the ending was rushed and we didn’t feel quite convinced of closure. When you feel like your heart has been dragged over barbed wire and you didn’t see it coming you need something extra to give you your breath back.

I think of the banal platitude: Love isn’t supposed to hurt. But really, if you’re doing it right, love hurts all the time.’

Thank you to Berkely Publishing for our review copy.

Synopsis

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 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?

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