Colleen Oakley’s poignant new novel has a fascinating premise: Is it possible to dream about someone you’ve never met, over and over, and then one day meet them in real life? That’s what happens to Mia, a struggling artist married to a surgeon and living in a burg called Hope Springs. She’s been dreaming of the same stranger for years, and one day, she sees him at the grocery store. His name is Oliver, and shockingly, he’s been dreaming about her, too, though not all his dreams are happy ones.
On top of this weirdness, Mia and her husband, Harrison, are going through a hard time. Harrison is guilt-ridden over the young patient he lost during what was supposed to be a routine surgery. Mia, desperate for a child, keeps miscarrying, and it doesn’t help to learn that the reasons for the miscarriages are the mixed-up genes in some of Harrison’s sperm cells. In his mind, he not only can’t save a child but can’t help create one either.
This leads Mia to wonder if maybe Harrison isn’t “the one.” After all, they’re not even compatible on a cellular level. Maybe her true soul mate is Oliver. Oliver, who sweetly tends Mia’s vegetable patch, comes to think so. And wait until you read what a fortuneteller has to say.
The inexplicable dreams, the tension between Mia and Harrison, the fortuneteller and Oakley’s breezy writing all encourage the reader to stick with the book, which tells a sad story to a bouncy beat. Full of misdirection and a few gentle red herrings, You Were There Too ends far more satisfyingly than you might expect.
Everyone has experienced or heard of inexplicable things, but what, if anything, do they mean? In You Were There Too, the final meaning is huge, bittersweet and just the thing to happen in a place called Hope Springs.