Oona Out of Order

Flatiron. Feb. 2020. 352p. ISBN 9781250236609. $26.99. F
On her birthday at midnight on New Year’s Eve 1982, Oona is chronologically 19, but in 2015. Her body is 51, and she has no idea what has happened in her life up to that point. Oona makes this jump on her birthday every year, each time ending up in an out-of-order new year. The dichotomy of her mind and body not matching creates dissonance for Oona. Montimore’s pacing and cadence ebb and flow with her protagonist’s emotions, delivering a compelling page-turner. Oona experiences not only the difficulty of maintaining relationships and the devastation of missed opportunities when living life out of order, but also the joy of truly being in the moment. Aware of her situation, her mother becomes her rock and support; their relationship is the hinge point on which Oona swings. Comparisons to Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife are inevitable, but the overwhelming impression here is of anticipation, not sorrow.
VERDICT Montimore (Asleep from Day) delivers a rock-and-roll love letter to 1980s–90s New York City as Oona discovers her true self through a lifetime of music and pop culture. A perfect match for those who enjoy well-developed characters with a twist in contemporary women’s fiction.
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