Published in 2020, Margarita Montimore’s “Oona Out of Order” is a quick, lighthearted novel that follows the life of Oona Lockhart. On her nineteenth birthday, Oona begins “leaping” to random years in her life on each birthday instead of following the typical chronological path. She begins her nineteenth year of life in a 51-year-old’s body, and continues to jump forward and backward in time; her chronological age and her physical age never align.
While the plot prompts intrigue and curiosity, Montimore fails to develop deep emotional complexity within and between the characters. The story happens in pieces, as each part of the book is devoted to a random age in her life. In this way, it reads more like a series of short stories and less like a novel because it does not fully explore the emotional toll of the loneliness that such a life would invoke. Reading the novel can even be frustrating, since you never get to know the full story of a situation or a character. The frustration felt by the reader is a reflection of that felt by Oona. She lives her entire life never knowing the full story — until the end of the book.
Although the premise of the novel leads you to reflect on your relationships and the temporal nature of everything, its flat, two-dimensional characters leave something to be desired.