Each year her body was hers, but her mind was out of sync with her reflection. Always playing catch-up, trying to rearrange the scrambled pieces of her life.
Oona Lockhart is out of order, at least according to the timeline of her entire life. It begins at a party in Brooklyn on New Year’s Eve, on the precipice of turning nineteen and making a big decision that is guaranteed to alter her future. She is struggling with her heart and mind. Oona has the opportunity to go to London to study economics or stay behind with the love of her young life Dale who wants to go on tour, this could be the big break they need in the music industry! Dale doesn’t know about London, neither does her liberal mother who could use a lesson in setting boundaries, providing structure in her daughter’s life. She would like to keep it that way, thank you, until she is sure of her decision. With her best friend pushing her to make the wise choice that will certainly ‘open doors’, all Oona wants is a night to enjoy the moment, not have to think about the looming choice she is wrestling with. Whose dream is it, what will she choose? She wishes she didn’t have to, maybe she doesn’t! A strange feeling overwhelms her as the countdown towards midnight, and her nineteenth birthday begins. Before she can figure out if she is dying or ill, she is out…
When Oona ‘comes to’ it is no longer 1982, it is now 2015 and there is a stranger helping her remember what happened, where she is, who she is now. Apparently she is a 52 year old woman who, though definitely still herself, is a complete stranger! An older man, but somehow younger than her seems to know her better than she knows herself, helps to ease her into this terrifying world, just what is going on? Who is he? Where is she? This is just the beginning of her time jumps, and her life is a puzzle she has to put back together every single time she experiences a hop. Can she learn to avoid mistakes, to change her future by fixing the past, make a fortune with stock tips? What about love, how much better can it be when you have seen the future… will she avoid love traps or learn to take whatever is offered and go with it, whether it ends in disaster or not.
Oona is out of order, much as we all are. Maybe it’s my age but it had me thinking about memory, how in some ways life is always a puzzle even when it seems to run in a straight line… that’s really just an illusion. This novel is about the game of hindsight for me, we all read different stories as we base it on our own emotional state, age… there will come a time, if you are lucky to live long enough, that you will feel like you’re looking at a stranger in the mirror. We are many people, many ages in one body, always. The older I get, the more I know everything is a gamble, the ‘safe’ option never existed. Other people are always the independent variable, because in a blink anything can and often will change. There is no set formula for any life, ever.
Oona must learn to set anchor on whatever shore of time she makes land and live her life to the fullest going on scant information. Any time it seems she is figuring things out, comfortable in the now (though still longing for her first love Dale) time change is coming with the new year. In a way they are like small deaths. There is a line “You know how messed up it is to be told what you’re like by someone who’s a stranger to you?” that I find incredibly insightful, because don’t we at some point live with people telling us who we are? Isn’t that happening already at the start when she has her best friend telling her she wants to go to London, and her boyfriend selling her his dream so she stays because of her love for him? For Oona, even her older self is a stranger telling her who she is and what to do, or not do, same thing! She will try and love who she is with, both friends and partners alike, while relying on clues from her future and past self. I really loved the surprise, it has so much heart. One moment she’s 19, the next 52, and on and on it goes. Does the order matter? Can a life be lived lost in time, so to speak?
Sure, we all do it now, winging it despite our best laid plans and what an adventure!
Publication Date: February 25, 2020 (unless you’re Oona then it could be 1982, 2015…)