I really love time travel or time displacement stories. I loved Audrey Niffenegger's "The Time Traveler's Wife" and Ken Grimwood's "Replay." "Oona out of Order" by Margarita Montimore is more of a time displacement or time-slip novel.
We join our protagonist, Oona, at age 18, where she is trying to decide how to spend her next year. Should she join her boyfriend's band to go on tour in Europe or accept a scholarship to study economics alongside her studious best friend? Unfortunately, at the stroke of midnight, right as her birthday begins, Oona starts feeling woozy and comes to in a different place, time and body — still her body, but her 51-year-old body. Oona has slipped forward in time, skipping ahead by 33 years. She has no memory of what has transpired over the intervening years, and she doesn't know what has happened in her own life, nor what has happened in the external world. So Oona has to adapt to a whole new world. This skipping around in time happens to her every year from here out.
Although Oona often writes a letter to her future self, she goes into many situations blind. Friends and family members tell her she asked for them not to tell her what her future holds so she can live her life fresh. This didn't really make sense to me, and I wondered if it were more of a plot device inserted for the author's benefit. Although Oona matures as she skips across the years, I was surprised at how self-centered she could be at times.
I believe good books invite you to think. I like books that invite you to ponder what it means to live life well or to have lived a good life. With each jump, Oona has to make sense of where she finds herself in her life and figure out what she wants to do with her life, who she wants to be. Early on, Oona — as well as Grimwood's protagonist in "Replay" — spends a fair amount of time drinking, partying and feeling sorry for themselves. Only as the protagonist matures, does she make wiser choices about how to spend her life. I also really liked the time paradoxes and surprises that unfold through her life. Unlike the protagonist in "Replay," (who escapes from his parents as soon as possible) I liked the fact that family figured prominently in Oona's life.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and the fact it made me think about my own life.
Qhyrrae Michaelieu is the head of adult services at the Missouri River Regional Library.