Saturday, May 09, 2020

Fiction Review: Oona Out of Order

As regular readers of this blog know, I love any kind of fictional plot that plays with time: time travel, alternate universes, jumping through time, etc. So, when I heard about Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore, in which a woman lives her life out of order, jumping to a different year (and age) every New Year's, I knew it was for me! I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this delightful and thoughtful novel on audio.

Oona Lockhart is celebrating New Year's Eve 1982 at a loud party with her boyfriend (and bandmate), Dale. At midnight, Oona will turn nineteen, and she has her whole exciting life ahead of her. Currently, she is trying to decide between accepting a new offer to open for another band and go on tour with her band next year or going ahead with her plans to study Economics in London with her best friend, Pam. Then, it's midnight, everyone counts down, and ... Oona faints. When she wakes up, she's in a plush, quiet house she doesn't recognize with an unfamiliar man. He kindly explains that his name is Kenzie, and he is her personal assistant and friend. He also explains that it is not 1983 but 2015, and she is not nineteen ... she's 51 years old. This is the first of many annual time jumps, when Oona is suddenly thrust into another year, another age, and another body. She spends much of that first year just trying to adjust to the idea, with Kenzie and her mother by her side, the only two people who know of her "condition." She approaches each year differently but finds it especially challenging to be a teen suddenly thrust into a middle-aged body and to have left all of her friends--and her exciting future--behind. She never knows where--or rather when--she will end up at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve.

Oh, this was such an intriguing and twisty novel! It was fun to read but also had emotional depth to it, as Oona struggles with issues of coming-of-age (in a 51-year-old body), aging, life choices, relationships, and more. One of the reasons I love novels that play with time is that they are endlessly thought-provoking, and Oona's unique situation in living her life out of order provides lots of this. Would you still start that love affair with the wonderful guy if you know it will eventually end in divorce? Will you follow the instructions left by yourself in the future if every instinct tells you not to? Oona's challenges are unique and fascinating, and it's great to go along for the ride with her, bouncing from one decade to another. The pop culture references are fun, too, providing a nostalgic background to the time-jumping story (especially since I was almost the same age as Oona in 1982!). I thoroughly enjoyed this original novel filled with warmth, humor, and insights into human nature.

352 pages, Flatiron Books
Macmillan Audio

If you also enjoy time-twisting tales, here are some others to try (my reviews at the links - no spoilers!):
Replay by Ken Grimwood is one of my favorite novels ever, about a man who keeps reliving parts of his life. I've read it three times (so far) and find it endlessly thought-provoking.

The Many Lives of John Stone by Linda Buckley-Archer is a YA novel about a man who has seemingly lived for centuries and the young girl who begins to figure out his secrets. It mixes historical fiction with a modern setting.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is perhaps one of the most well-known time-jumping novels, and another book that is on my favorites of all time list! I've read it twice and loved it both times, and sobbed my heart out both times.
Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen - one of my recent favorites, this one is more classic time travel, but with a lot of heart and a great sense of humor, about a time-traveler from the future who gets stuck in 1996. A wonderful novel (and the author has a new one out now, too).

Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. My review is my own opinion and is not influenced by my relationship with the publisher or author.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Purchases from these links provide a small commission to me (pennies per purchase), to help offset the time I spend writing for this blog, at no extra cost to you.

Listen to a sample of the excellent audiobook here and/or download it from Audible. The sample is from the beginning of the novel, with eighteen-year-old Oona at her New Year's Eve Birthday party, having no idea of what is ahead!

You can purchase Oona Out of Order from an independent bookstore, either locally or online, here:
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit

Or you can order Oona Out of Order from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.


  1. I'm not so sure how good I am at time changes/travel, but this book does sound fun.

  2. How do you think this would work for a book club. It sounds just great.

    1. I think it would make a great book club discussion, Anne! This sort of time-jumping/time-travel plot always makes for a very thought-provoking book. Oona has to keep making decisions and choices about how to live her life, sometimes knowing what's ahead (and sometimes not) - there'd be a lot to discuss here.