Book Review: Oona Out of Order, by Margarita Montimore

You guys, this book is an absolute delight.

Imagine what it would be like to wake up on your birthday, all out of sorts, and find out that you’ve jumped ahead years into the future, or years into the past. Your mind is still the age it should be. Your memories encompass only those years you’ve already physically lived through. But instead of being the same age as your mind, your body is much older or much younger.

That is the life that Oona Lockhart lives, and no one has any idea why.

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?

Goodreads

I absolutely love the premise of Oona Out of Order, and the more I think about it, the more it intrigues me. I have a number of unanswered questions about how it all works, but that’s a good thing…those questions have given me lots to think about, even a week or more after finishing the book. (Very, very sneaky, Margarita Montimore. [fist bump])

So, think about it:

You’re about to turn 19 years old. You faint and wake up in your 51-year-old body. In your mind, you’ve just turned 19. The only memories you have are of your first 18 years. You’re in a strange house, which you’re told is yours by the stranger standing over you. As you look around and come out of the fainting fog, you realize you obviously have a lot of money. You look in a mirror and see your 51-year-old face staring back at you. What the heck would you do?!

The next year on your birthday, you wake up in your 27-year-old body. You’re now 20 in your mind. You have the memories of your first 18 years, and now your 51st year. Wuuuuut?

What is your life like this year?! Who are your friends?! Do you have a significant other?! KIDS?! Whoa.

“Most people’s lives are novels, but yours is a series of short stories.”

I have tried to imagine what that would be like, and all I can come up with is “confusing, terrifying, exciting, sad, happy,” depending on the situation. I can think of situations where having this “affliction” would be awesome, and situations where it would be devastating. But no matter what, I think it would always be a good lesson in living life in the moment and not taking the people you love for granted.

“All good things end, always. The trick is to enjoy them while they last.”

Actually, this would teach you SO MANY LESSONS, which is exactly what happens to Oona.

And while Oona Out of Order is an absolute delight, it is also heartbreaking and frustrating. Oona does some very stupid things, and I had to keep reminding myself that she wasn’t really an adult yet (being 18 or older does not necessarily equal being an adult), even when she was in a very adult body. Some of Oona’s years are full of fun and good friends…and some of them are full of heartbreak and loneliness. But each year teaches Oona a lesson of some sort before she moves on.

“After all, you need to experience the lows along with the highs. Otherwise, you end up with a safe, sterile, painless life, and who wants that?”

Oh, and the characters are great. Well, they’re not ALL great (a few of them are assholes, heh), but the vast majority of them are wonderful. And I enjoyed so many of the pop-culture references (especially those from the 80s). Some of the plot was entirely predictable, but I was totally okay with that in this case. The coolness of the premise and the general lightness of the story made up for that.

I don’t want to put my unanswered questions in this review, because I feel like most of them would give too much of the story away, but I’d be interested to discuss them in the comments if any of you have read the book.

If you’ve read the book, what did you think? What was your favorite of Oona’s years/ages? Any unanswered questions you’re still thinking about?