What if you lived every year of your life in the wrong order?
Brooklyn, 1982. Oona Lockhart is about to celebrate her 19th birthday and ring in the New Year. But at the stroke of midnight, she is torn from her friends and boyfriend, finding herself in her fifty-one-year-old body, thirty-two years into the future.
Greeted by a friendly stranger, Oona learns that on every birthday she will enter a different year of her adult life at random. Still a young woman on the inside, but ever changing on the outside, who will she be next year? Wealthy philanthropist? Nineties Club Kid? World traveller? Wife to a man she’s never met?
As she struggles between fighting her fate and accepting it, Oona must learn to navigate a life that’s out of order – but is it broken?
The Rearranged Life of Oona Lockhart by Margarita Montimore is a time-travelling novel that explores the power of being alive, and the importance of living life to its fullest at every moment.
Oona jumps to a different point in her life every year on New Years’ Day. The pattern is random and there’s no way to tell what age she’ll be after her 12 months are up.
Whilst time travel is not a new concept, the premise of this book feels fresh and unique, taking readers on a journey through different eras — from the 1980s to 2017.
“Oona came to with a long gasp, as if breathing the surface after being trapped underwater, left to drown. A second earlier, she’d been surrounded by people and light and noise and warmth. Now she lay on a plush carpet in a dark room lit by a fireplace, silent but for the crackle of flames heating the drafty space.”
The Rearranged Life of Oona Lockhart is charming and sweet — the perfect beachside read or airport purchase.
The novel explores the conflict of knowing your future. If Oona knows where her life is headed, should she change what she’s doing in the present? What kind of effect will that have on her future life?
Oona faces this dilemma multiple times in the novel, each time questioning the reasons behind living the life she’s expected to live. If she knows where the next 12 months will lead her, how is this living? How is this fun? She should be allowed to make her own decisions and live her life spontaneously.
“Kenzie joined her when he didn’t have calls or errands, and she picked his brain about the modern world. She brimmed with endless questions like a hyper curious child, only instead of asking why the sky was blue or where babies came from, she asked why 9/11 happened and where society’s progressive attitude came from, still in awe that a black man was president and gay marriage was legal.”
Upon reflection, I feel that there isn’t much tension in this book. Sure, it’s disorientating and confusing for Oona whenever she jumps to another year in her life, because she’s never really sure where she’ll end up. But, she’s got an incredibly secure life and so there’s never a time where you truly worry for her.
Firstly, she’s rich. In every single year of her life. She never even has to work or find a job. Secondly, she has her mother’s help and guidance every time. Thirdly, there’s a letter waiting for her that gives her an update on her life, and an indication of how she should live the next one.
To be honest, Oona’s life is relatively easy. I never once worried for her. Or felt concern for her.
“Deep breath in, deep breath out. Oona tried to check the time, but found she wasn’t wearing a watch. A flash of colour on the inside of her wrist made her pull up her sleeve. She gasped and revealed a tattoo: an hourglass with swirls of galaxies in place of sand, a ribbon across its space spelling out M.D.C.R.”
Characterisation is one of the biggest strengths in this novel. Margarita captures Oona’s conflict incredibly well, but also her grief, her despair, and her doubts. Time travel would have its benefits but it would also be devastating knowing how your life ends up, without ever having the chance to experience that yourself. Oona’s internal dialogue is filled with depth, understanding, maturity, but also raw human emotion.
Recommend for fans of literary fiction, and women’s literature. The unique premise will draw you in and keep you engaged until the final chapter.
Thank you to the publisher for mailing me a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
The Rearranged Life of Oona Lockhart
Hachette Book Publishers