I have only read two books by Colleen Oakley, but based on those two, she now has a place on my list of must-read authors. Her latest novel, You Were There Too, is that rare mix of realism and fairy tale. Rolled into an emotion-laden story, it has no melodrama and never crosses the line into saccharine sweetness. If anything, it is one of the most honest looks at the difficulties of marriage, and I respect Ms. Oakley so much for her lack of sugar-coating. Plus, Ms. Oakley made me shed tears while reading once again, something it takes a talented author to get me to do.
I picked up You Were There Too expecting an intriguing novel about the life you have versus the life you could have. What I ended up reading blew away my expectations. The story has mystery, multiple twists, and an ending I can respect and even applaud for the courage it shows. Her characters are delightful in their flaws, their complexity, and their realness. The small-town setting, with its direct contrast to the bustle of Philadelphia, provides an eerie mood to the story that enhances its otherworldliness. Well-written without being too dramatic, You Were There Too is a simple story simply told with great success.