Monday, March 8, 2021

Anachronism as Plot Sequence: Oona out of Order

 I don't mind a gimmick in a novel if it is crafted well and if it works. Shifts back and forth between place and time are part of the challenge and charm of a good book.

Margarita Montimore's novel Oona Out of Order is based on the unlikely premise that a young woman finds herself living one year  at a time but out of sequence. With a January 1 birthday, each New Year's Eve as midnight strikes, she finds herself on another January 1. 

In the opening chapter, she's celebrating her upcoming 19th birthday at a party with Dale, the love of her life. They're in a band together with an offer to open for a bigger band in the coming year. She is torn between the opportunity and a year in Europe she's planned with her decidedly square best friend.

Moving from 19 to her forties is quite a shock. Some version of herself has the presence of mind to leave a letter for whoever shows up in the coming year. She finds most of the letters. In the first time travel she arrives in a splendid house--hers--with her mother and her assistant, the only two people who know her real story.

Along the way, she finds love and marriage but with the ominous foresight to know they won't last, but not why. For all the times we have wished we could go back in time, "knowing what I know how," Oona's story suggests it might not help at all.


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