I have been doing a ton of reading this summer, and Oona Out of Order is by far the most fun fiction book I've read all year. I discovered it via Goodreads; recommended to me as something I might like based on how highly I rated Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple.
The book is written by Margarita Montimore, who is a graduate of Emerson College in Boston! The story centers around Oona, a woman who time travels each year on her birthday (which happens to be New Year's Eve). The first time it happens she is 19 years old, and she wakes up at 51. Each year she leaps, never knowing which age will be next. Sometimes she's older, sometimes she's younger, sometimes it's the next sequential year. I found myself giddy with anticipation each December 31st.
What makes this premise so cool and interesting is that it complicates not only Oona's relationship with her family and her romantic partners, but her sense of culture and society. Imagine having an iPhone, then being bumped back 25 years before cell phones!
The time travel also gives Oona the ability to study financial markets and make smart decision each leap, ensuring she's setting future Oona up for stabilty. If you knew that Apple stock would surge, wouldn't you buy as much as you could?
The book also tackles existential questions like, "If you knew you could change your future, would you?" or "If you learned a partner was not a great match, would you try to avoid them meeting them when you get the chance do that moment over?"
On page 262, Oona begins to have some of those revelations, "How foolish that she'd let her broken chronology confine her for so long. Even the trip to Egypt had been born of avoidance, running away from fate as she was catapulted toward it. But this year abroad wasn't about tying to hide or subvert, it was her rage giving her a choice, to try or fly, say no or say yes. So she chose yes. She said yes at a snake farm, when offered a cobra's head to kiss for good luck. She said yes to playing guitar at a party of German divorcées at a beachfront café, and yes again all four times they asked her to play Sheryl Crow's 'All I Wanna Do.' She said yes at a shooting range, firing off rifle rounds at paper targets. She said yes to piercing her navel and yes again to removing the hoop a month later when the piercing became infected. If her future wasn't malleable, why put limits on the present? So she said yes, yes, yes, and sometimes she wished she hadn't, but mostly she was glad she did."
I raced through this book and was sad when it was over. As I always do, I read the acknowledgements section at the very end, and was touched by Montimore's inclusion of this paragraph, "Speaking of the publishing industry . . . I got a lot (hundreds!) or rejections in the years I've been trying to make it as a writer. Sometimes they buoyed me because of a bit of nice feedback, sometimes they left me indifferent, and more than once, they plummted me into deep despair. But the rejection gave me grit and tested how much I wanted this dream. And it made this moment so much sweeter because it didn't come quickly or easily. So to every agent and editor who said no, thank you. And to writers still trying to get their stories out there, keep fighting the good fight."
Doesn't she seem like such a kind human? I'd love to meet up with her for tea.
If you're looking for a new book, definitley add Oona Out of Order to your list.
*Image courtesy of Parade.