Oona out of Order
By Margarita Montimore
Published February 25, 2020 by Flatiron Books
Just because life may be out of order, doesn’t mean it’s broken.
It’s New Year’s Eve 1982, and Oona Lockhart has her whole life before her. At the stroke of midnight she will turn nineteen, and the year ahead promises to be one of consequence. Should she go to London to study economics, or remain at home in Brooklyn to pursue her passion for music and be with her boyfriend? As the countdown to the New Year begins, Oona faints and awakens thirty-two years in the future in her fifty-one-year-old body. Greeted by a friendly stranger in a beautiful house she’s told is her own, Oona learns that with each passing year she will leap to another age at random. And so begins Oona Out of Order…
Hopping through decades, pop culture fads, and much-needed stock tips, Oona is still a young woman on the inside but ever changing on the outside. Who will she be next year? Philanthropist? Club Kid? World traveler? Wife to a man she’s never met?
Oona Out of Order is a remarkably inventive novel that explores what it means to live a life fully in the moment, even if those moments are out of sequence. Surprising, magical, and heart-wrenching, Montimore has crafted an unforgettable story about the burdens of time, the endurance of love, and the power of family.
Oona Lockhart faints on her 19th birthday and wakes up 32 years later in her 51-year-old body. She’s understandably freaked out, but she’s greeted by a man who says he’s her personal assistant and friend Kenzie. He explains that she’s a time traveler of a very unique sort: Every year on her birthday, she faints and wakes up in a different year of her life. It can be any year she’s never lived before, and she no way to control it or decide which year it will be.
And so, Oona experiences her life out of order, with no predictable pattern of how the years will go. She’s a young soul in a body of all different ages. Sometimes the year is a good one, sometimes it’s a painful one. There’s love and loss and sometimes a horrible sense of knowing something is going to happen and not being able to prevent it. She has her beloved mother and Kenzie to help her through the weirdness of her life, but there are times when she’s very much alone.
I thought this was a really interesting concept for time travel. The idea of living your life out of order provides a lot of emotional resonance. Oona is a great character. She’s strong and resilient, and she learns to embrace a life of uncertainty and enjoy the good moments, of which there are many. Although the time travel is a central element to this book, there’s no science fiction explanation here. This may be unsatisfying for some readers, but I thought that it worked really well for the plot in this case.