Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore

I first learned about this book on the podcast What Should I Read Next?. It is the story of a young woman born on New Year’s Day. As the clock strikes midnight ringing in the new year and her nineteenth birthday, she finds herself suddenly in a strange place in a strange version of her body. It turns out that she lives the year nineteen on the inside but fifty-one on the outside. And on the eve of each of her birthday’s she has no idea what year of her life she will live next. In this way, she really does live her life out of order. I found this unusual take on time travel interesting and decided to read the book.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Oona’s father died when she was a girl and her mother was unusual in the way she raised her. She readily accepts the weird life that her daughter is experiencing and is the one person always there for her on each of her birthdays. She learns about an assistant she has when she is 51/19 who is also there for her in her older years. As such, this is a story of relationships explored through unusual circumstances. In many ways, Oona is forced to mature much quicker than young people often do.

What really touched me about this book is how real it felt despite the rather absurd (but fun!) premise. The challenges that Oona faces may be out place time-wise, but they are very relatable to the reader. And the way she addresses them feels very realistic. I can see someone behaving as she does. The book reminded me of a combination of Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin and The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. If you liked either of those books, you might enjoy this one as well. It is an amazing story of family, love, growing up, aging, and all the other messy things we call life.

My rating: 4.5/5

Deep Relationships

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow book cover

There has been a lot of hype this year about Gabrielle Zevin’s novel Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow. It is all deserved. The book is a tale of lifelong friendship that starts in a children’s hospital. Sadie and Sam go on to become world-famous video game programmers. Many reviewers have focused on that last aspect of the novel, but the story is much deeper than that.

This is a story that any person can identify with. These friends support each other, fight, go through periods of not speaking, and still care deeply and struggle together and with each other. It is a tale of relationship more than anything else. And it is an engrossing story supremely well-told.

The author uses what some may call gimmicks in a few places. For instance, one chapter is a he said/she said where the same experiences are told from the point of view of each of the main characters. Another chapter is told in the second person (you). However, in each case, the method of writing serves the storytelling well. At the end of the book I felt I had been taken a deep into the lives of very real people from whom I learned a lot about the struggles and rewards of deep relationship.

Only Meh

The Bookshop of Yesterdays book cover

On my recent vacation, we started listening to a second audio book on our drive home. We only got about a third of the way through by the time we got home. When I asked my partner if she wanted to continue to listen to it, she declined. I should have trusted her judgment.

The book was The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson. The story is about a woman whose uncle dies. She returns from Philadelphia to her where she grew up in LA. Once there she discovers that her uncle has left her a sort of treasure hunt. He had done this many times when she was a girl. She struggles with each step of the hunt to uncover the mystery of who her uncle was and how that relates to her.

The book wasn’t bad. It was just “meh”. And with so many good books out there to read, quitting this one would have been justified. But there was just enough there to keep me going to the end. My partner and I figured out the main twist while we were on our way home in the first third of the book. The literary references and anchoring the story on a bookstore were really what drew me in and kept me going. I found the characters a bit simplistic and not very relatable. So, again, not a bad book. There are just a lot of better ones out there. Read those.