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? Surprising, magical, and heart-wrenching, Margarita Montimore has crafted an unforgettable story about the burdens of time, the endurance of love, and the power of family.Amazon
This is my review for Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore
I intend to use the ***ASPECT method for my discussion and will not spoil the ending.
It is a small miracle that this is posting at its regular time. More information about that can be found here.
Why THIS book?
I saw it at Target and in the TBR stack of a few friends… plus I liked the gimmick. The library wait wasn’t long… so here we are.
I love memory twist plots and I love speculative fiction that isn’t always spaceships or alternative history. Without the timey wimey aspects, this would be a normal contemporary book about contemporary people living their lives. And I dig that.
What I mean is.. It was easy to follow. Which is saying something considering the schtick of time travel.
I do have a pretty big quibble but I want to say a few more things before I circle back to it.
Atmosphere / Style
I am merging these two because they are so connected. It is modern-day (ish) and the style is very one voice telling a story in simple terms. This is not high literary art. There is really no symbolism or deeper meaning to anything. It is a straightforward story about a not straightforward life. It was easy to read even though the conceit of the book is a bit mind-bendy. As long as you just trust that it will either be explained enough that you can “get it”( or at least enjoy it) or that you will get to a point where you can just be entertained by it… it’s fine.
I liked Oona. But…. I don’t know. She was just sort of there. What made her interesting was the time travel aspect. And yes, she did some interesting things… but those are not the bits of her life that we really get to see.
She moves through time. You got that from the back of the book. And each chapter is another year of her life. But she doesn’t die at a tragic young age and this book cannot possibly do every year of her life… so we get the “set up” years for the most part. With one big exception, we don’t get the big important years. We don’t get the year when she made a big life choice of A or B or the year when this big sad thing happened or the year where this big life-changing happy thing happened. We get the years where she is figuring out how to work within the system… but almost always with a letter from the previous year who is both a voice from the past and seems to always have future knowledge even when she is old. It is a paradox? Sure, but that isn’t the thing that bugs me. What bugs me is that we don’t get to see too much in the way of character growth or big moments of her life, we see the lead-in or the falling action.
And that kinda sucks since the point of the book seems to be that the little moments matter and that we should cherish all our time bla bla bla… yeah… it gets really close to being sappy and sentimental but stops juuuust short of schlocky.
I get why Montimore did it this way… with a story about time traveling through one’s own life, it is hard to think of another way to go, but ti still let me dissatisfied.
As I said, there was one glaring exception where she lives the previous year right after the earlier year (it makes sense in the book) and there is tension and frustration with the memory wipe…. But that happened too early leaving the rest of the book to just be a list of things… ok, we need to see when X happens, when Y happens… when Z happens… and we don’t even get all XYZ, sometimes we get the setup fo X but we are told that when it happens it is super cool.
I felt cheated.
Again, maybe that was the point… that the climax happens too early…. And that life, real life, isn’t like novels where you can expect some sort of narrative structure that will help you know what is important while it is happening instead of afterward with the benefit of hindsight.
The fact that I am not sure though means that something was missing.
Or maybe it is just me being a dense little goldfish.
Entertaining / Would I recommend it?
Yes and Yeah. It did keep me interested even if I pretty much figured out the shocking reveal early on (to be honest I had it pegged as one of two things and the thing it wasn’t is far darker and way more sinister than what it was, so I guess you should be glad I wasn’t the one writing this). There could have been more time traveling stuff… it was strangely light on “oh that hasn’t been invented yet” moments (and the ones that were there seemed added in later as if an editor was like “Hey… you need some actual time travel stuff in your time travel book”).
Good beach read. Or backyard read if you are still forgoing travel. Read it and then go hug your mom/kid/cat/friend/plant and be happy that you are here in this moment of your life. Could be a fun book club book if paired with something a bit deeper like “But What If We’re Wrong? Thinking about The Present as If It Were The Past?” Which is a book I cannot wait to read btw.
*** ASPECT Method (I created this, I used it, feel free to do the same.)
A Atmosphere: How did it make me feel? What was the world like? This might include the overall tone.
S Style: What was the writing style like? Simplistic or sophisticated? Clunky or beautiful?
P Plot/Pace: Was it engaging? Were there holes? Did it feel too rushed or too long?
E Enjoyment: Was it a chore to finish or compelling enough that I picked it over other fun activities?
C Characters: Were they believable, sympathetic, interesting?
T This? Why did I read *This* book?
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