Oona Out of Order: A Novel by Margarita Montimore

47485645._SY475_.jpg

 

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…)

Flatiron Books

Time After Time: A Novel by Lisa Grunwald

42262526

What Nora had never shaken was the memory of fighting to come out of the ether.

Nora Lansing knows where she wants to go, just not how to get there. She is young, ‘out of place’ and railroad worker (leverman) Joe Reynolds is captivated watching the confusion flit across her face in Grand Central Terminal.  “She made him think of the cats in the tunnels far beneath the concourse: coiled up and waiting, all energy, no telling what they were going to do.” A funny word that, ‘energy’. For what else can drive her? This ‘old fashioned woman’, so charming in dark times is all brightness, but something doesn’t fit. He doesn’t yet know that she is not just as graceful but as mysterious as a feline too. Her clothes really are out of date, though they do tell of wealth, maybe it’s a costume? What does he know of fashion anyway? It is 1937, it is their first encounter but will not be the last.

Joe’s desire to see Stonehenge makes the beauty of Manhattanhenge (or the Manhattan Solstice) nearly as awe inspiring. For Nora, it could well be the source of the strange turn her life has taken. What could the alignment of sunrise and sunset over Manhattan’s street grid have to do with her being trapped in time and place? Is she a ghost? No, she can’t have this much life in her and be dead. Ghosts can’t share a meal with a man in a coffee shop, exactly a year after meeting him. It’s not her beloved Paris where she had her first taste of freedom, but the grilled cheese and the company is delightful! Joe may well be the first man to really see Nora, to wonder at her very existence. With her laughter dancing through his ears, he is falling in love. Just when he plays protector, she disappears on him. Then, a phone call  he makes to Nora turns his life upside down.

People have seen her, he’s one of many, the first week of December always, the same place where he first set eyes upon her. She never stays. The reason is unfathomable, impossible!

1924 Nora is happy to be on her own in Paris, where being lost is a pleasure. An artist whose lucky day leads her to work as an assistant to the owner of a small art gallery, finding undiscovered talent, Paris is full of promise. There is no better place to be than Paris to hone her skills, where the light is best, where everywhere the eye settles it is like a painting, beauty abounds. It doesn’t hurt that she is a socialite, and has the means for such adventures but it isn’t to last, for home is calling to her and she must return to her beloved father. As soon as she arrives upon the ocean liner, she rushes to her father in hospital. Seeing him solidifies her need to be home.

Forced to take the subway after, when cabs are nowhere in sight, there is an accident, the train isn’t the only thing that derails. The delay takes years. When Nora opens her eyes, she immediately wants to contact her mother, but is met with the dreadful reality that there is no place for her in the world anymore, and time has moved on without her. This is a love story, certainly, but for me it related a horror, what is worse than being locked out of time, than having to prove who you are? Waiting for salvation that may never come? What would be more heartbreaking to a mother? Seriously, I had a lump in my throat when Nora is trying to contact her mom. If Nora gives Joe’s life meaning, he is the sole spot of joy she can look forward to upon every return, after so much hope seemed lost.

Nora’s unbelievable story opens before Joe’s eyes. With the World Fair being hosted in New York,  focused on the future “the world of tomorrow” it’s strange to be stuck in the yesterday and wrapped up in Nora. Once happy to wait for life to unfold, Nora has changed everything. The waiting is torture, time crawls when he waits for her to come back. No one has answers, not even an old Jewish woman who plays at being a gypsy. Of course they find each other again, and they steal as much time as they can. The fear is always there, what if she disappears again? They figure out a way to keep Nora anchored, living in the Biltmore hotel but life can’t be confined within a set distance for any of us. Naturally the best laid plans go awry when you take into account the rest of the world, Joe’s family, the fate of the city, war. Nothing remains stationary! Would that we could protect our love, whether we’re haunted or not. Can Joe and Nora truly live like this and what happens if she never ages? What are the choices we have to make, the things we must give up in order to embrace our fate?

A haunting of the heart.

Publication Date: June 11, 2019

Random House

The Dream Daughter: A Novel by Diane Chamberlain

37638145.jpg

“But what are they?” I asked, beginning to panic. “Your findings, what did you see?”

Scary words when you’re pregnant and the news isn’t good, “Your findings, what did you see?”. Caroline has already lost the father of her child, to learn that her unborn baby has a heart defect is horrifying. The time is 1970, and all hope seems lost until her brother-in-law, a man with his own mysterious past, a physicist, confides a deeply shocking secret, one that may change her entire future and that of her unborn baby. At first, it seems as if he has lost his mind or is playing a joke. Can playing with time be the answer? This ‘leap’ she must take, if Hunter is to be believed, will save her baby’s life but if it’s all madness, it could cost Caroline her own.

It is to Caroline Hunter Poole owes his own happiness, once just a strange guy with broken bones and deep depression stuck in a wheel chair none of the other physical therapists wanted to work with. Hunter chose her, the only PT he was he was willing to have take him on, feeling she reminded him of someone he once knew. It isn’t long before she feels he’d be perfect for her sister Patti. Patti and Hunter marry, he feels tight as brothers to Caroline’s husband Joe before his tragic death. How could he stand by and watch Caroline lose the one thing, her baby, that gave her any happiness, any hope after such loss? It will expose his secret to confide in her a path to save the baby and explain the mysterious incident that landed him in the hospital to begin with.

This story hits the heart of a mother, because the truth is for most women a child is loved the moment we carry them. It is many a pregnant woman’s fear that something could go wrong for her unborn baby. In Caroline’s case, it’s true. What mother wouldn’t consider the absolute impossible if it meant salvation for her child? Wouldn’t cling to even another’s ‘fantastical story’ if it could be true? This tale turned my thoughts to medical breakthroughs, while miraculous for some came too late for others. Time, in that instance, can feel like it plays favorites much kinder to future generations. But that’s a game we can all play, some of our simple illnesses today, in bygone times, snuffed out many lives.

Caroline will be displaced, and trapped by the windows of time may still lose everything she holds dear. How much do we sacrifice for love? What if the one chance your child has means letting go forever?

This is a unique story about time travel and  how happy endings aren’t always destined to play out the way we planned. A unique twist as usually time travel novels are about love between a man and woman this instead is a mother and child love story. Wonderful.

Publication Date: October 2, 2018

St. Martin’s Press