YOU WERE THERE TOO
I've said it before and I'll say it again and again: sometimes you read books at exactly the right time and they just land. They hit you harder than you expect. I had that moment with You Were There Too. It left me throughly emotional and, if you’ve been hanging out long enough, you know I’m a bit of a masochist— I fucking love books that leave me wrecked. Here's the synopsis from Goodreads:
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 them, 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?
You Were There Too hits a lot of tough topics, and when I say tough, I mean it’s packed full of the things we fear. Fear of ourselves— are we really selfish for wanting things in life? Will we turn out like our parents? Fear of others leaving us and fear of others coming into our structural lives. Fear of life turning upside down when you least expect it. Fear of losing the things you love the most even when you hold on tight. Fear of change and at the same time, that things will never change. Not to mention the psychosis of grief: how it comes in waves and how you can convince yourself that maybe you deserve it. I'd like to clearly leave a trigger warning for this book.
The characters in You Were There Too are far from perfect. Mia's dreams of a mystery man are seemingly innocent (ish) until she meets him in person, and the what ifs? pile on from there. What if your life was supposed to be different? What if one missed opportunity affected the trajectory of your entire life? If you were increasingly aware of the existence of fate, would you want to find out the answers to what if? Yes, I’ll admit, there’s what anyone would call emotional cheating. But...that happens in life sometimes, in marriage. If you’ve never been married before and you don’t know what’s normal, you ask yourself a lot of questions. Is it normal for the fire you first felt to die off into embers that are hard to bring back aflame? Is the person you fell in love with still the same person ten years later even though they’ve changed? Do you sacrifice your dreams for the person you love, or is there a point where compromise isn’t an option? You Were There Too is a peak into marriage–it's not perfect. You go through cycles of good and bad times. You argue over who did the laundry last and other utterly pointless arguments that you eventually let go of because they're meaningless compared to the love you feel at the end of the day. And of all this, of all the instances as you're reading when you think, Mia, for Christ's sake, you love your husband, there are so many redeeming moments that are also so frequently found in marriage. Those little moments when you know, despite time and change, that your partner loves you in a way no one else does. And despite the fights, those little moments are the things you fight for.
I never let my husband leave the house or hang up without an I love you. I’m always afraid of what our last words might be because the world is a crazy, unpredictable place. And so this book hit me hard. For a moment in time, I had a brief glimpse into what a worst fear would feel like, and that’s how I know the relationship, the flawed characters, the story overall was done well. You Were There Too strikes a balance between being frequently and surprisingly funny, and delivering the reader with tangible grief.
Rating: 4 stars