Spoiler Alert, This Review is Out of Order: A Review of Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore
Hello, Book Nerds! Welcome back to Reading Has Ruined My Life or welcome if you are new. As always, my name is Hannah and I am your captain on this journey into my bookcases.
I have a lovely book I wish to talk about today. On a semi-recent excursion to Barnes and Noble, I found a copy of Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore.
This has been on my TBR list for a good year at this point. So when I found it in the wild, on sale I might add, I had to pick it up; it was fate. Now, let’s get to the review.
As always, a spoiler alert is in order. You’ve been warned. Also, a quick content warning. There are instances of recreational drug use and one instance of homophobia. Just be aware of that before going in.
The year is 1982 and Oona Lockhart is about to turn 19. She’s a New Year’s Eve baby! And what better way to celebrate than by hosting an awesome party with your hot, amazing boyfriend and all your friends! But at the stroke of midnight, something happens, something abnormal, something strange, something life changing. Oona time travels to 2015, and while she just turned 19 and feels that way on the inside, she ends up in her 51-year-old body.
Every year as the clock strikes midnight, Oona finds herself in a new year, but if she’s young or old remains a mystery. The only constant in her life is her mother Madeleine, and in later years, her personal assistant Kenzie. These are the only two who know the truth of what happens to Oona every year. Things are still incredibly strange though. Oona never knows what year she’s going to find herself in, and she has no clue how or why she’s time traveling. What transpires is a coming of age story, the ups and downs of aging, family, and the power of unconditional love.
I know this book is already a big deal, but I think it needs to be talked about more. I didn’t learn about this novel until late 2021. I couldn’t tell you if that was when Oona Out of Order was at the height of its popularity or at the end. Either way, I wish I had learned of this book sooner.
I never knew what to expect with this one. Seriously, I just let Oona take me on a ride through the insanity that is her time traveling. Oona doesn’t know what she’s getting herself into each year, and neither do readers. That’s my favorite part of the book. When Oona first time travels, she’s told what’s going on and that she’s done just about everything and anything possible in her life. With one comment, readers know they are going to be thrust into utter madness year after year/part after part.
While I greatly appreciated never knowing what was going to occur, Oona’s character arc was the best thing about this novel. She begins as your typical 19-year-old. She’s in the prime of her life, thinks herself to be madly in love, and is figuring things out as she goes. At this point she doesn’t know what the future holds, but as her time traveling begins, she grows up at an incredible speed. She learns life lessons, typically reserved for people many years older than how old Oona is internally, at what I would call an alarming rate.
She also experiences so much loss. I’m not talking simply about death. While Oona does lose many people because they’ve died, she meets and forms friendships with awesome people each and every year only for them to be missing the next. I wouldn’t blame this woman for becoming a hermit or simply never talking to new people again. Yet she takes all this in stride.
By the time the novel ends, she’s already lived a lifetime. She’s not even out of her twenties! But she’s learned that the world is not fair, that things can change in the blink of an eye, there are so many ups and downs, and to take it all in stride. All with the maturity and wisdom of someone double or triple her age. At the end of the novel she has finally returned to the birthday she was celebrating at the start, and now, even though she knows many things that are to occur, she allows herself to go along for the ride. There are certain things that she cannot change or prevent, but those things don’t matter anymore. She’s simply going to live her life to the fullest and roll with the punches.
This brings me to the only fault of the novel. Dale. Who’s Dale? Well Dale is Oona’s first love who, spoiler alert, dies young. He’s with Oona at the start of the novel when she begins time traveling. When she wakes up many years in the future, she learns that he died in his early 20’s. She’s obviously heartbroken. I believe she wanted to spend her life with him and that does not happen. But as the story goes on, and as she desperately wishes to get back to Dale, she puts him on a pedestal. Yes, this is her first love. Probably her biggest “what if” in life. But every other romantic interest gets compared to Dale.
This was a tiring aspect. I was over it by her second important lover. Dale has been put on a pedestal, but I feel that readers are never given a proper reason as to why. As it stands, the main reasons are because Dale was her first love and he passes away young. But when it comes to how their relationship went and his good and bad qualities, there’s nothing to note. The author never talks about them and it makes me question truly why Dale is set on said pedestal. What is so great about him? Why is Oona so stuck on him to the point she self-sabotages her romantic relationship?
That is really the only issue I have with this novel. Oona Out of Order is a gem! Honestly, I wish it went on longer. I would have gladly read the entirety of Oona’s out of order life. I highly recommend reading this book, it does not disappoint.
And on that note, I must bid you all adieu. I shall see you next week with another special review.
Until then, stay safe, wash your hands, and read some good books for me.