The year is almost over and I thought I’d end on a high note and read the earlier book of an author who wrote a book that landed on my top books for the year list. I wouldn’t say her more recent book Acts of Violets was great literature and a true classic but it was a lot of fun so I thought Oona would be the same.
Oona was a very quick book to read which was good because I didn’t waste a lot of time on it but it also meant I was really aware when reading it some discrepancies.
In the book, Oona passes out on New Year’s birthday and wakes up a different age mentally in a different body. She remembers only what has happened up to her mental age. For example, she will be 21 and wake up in a 50s something body. Oona was 18 in 1982 when the book began. The book chronicles her waking up anywhere between that age and 53.
There are some parts the book does well. They wisely have her mother be only 17 years older than her so she has someone who has known her since birth and knows what’s going on. She has an assistant, Kenzie, who knows what’s going on. They explain that she uses her knowledge over the years to invest in stocks and is very wealthy, giving her a home base and charitable leanings.
However there were many parts the book did exceptionally poorly. There were major mistakes in the timeline and what Oona would know or not.
Weird errors in the timeline are present very early on. There is a scene where confused Oona is told by Kenzie that she is the “Oprah” of charitable giving and she immediately says she gets that reference (unlike other references and slang) and makes a joke. Coming from the early ‘80s Oona would most likely not even know who Oprah was since her syndicated show didn’t air until 1986 and she certainly wouldn’t be able to make a “you get a car reference” because that happened nearly over 30 years after the last time she remembered. In the same chapter she catches up on movies like Purple Rain she had “missed” which made the error really stand out to me.
There is a scene when “older” Oona goes back to 1999 and order coffee and the barista is baffled by her “modern” order. In 1999 era NYC soy lattes were already pretty much a stereotype of a certain type of customer. There is no way the barista wouldn’t know what she was ordering or not have soy milk on hand. This is something you could even look up, when I googled it there are soy latte references going back to the 1970s and discussion about them in coffee articles in the 1990s. There is no way NYC would be behind the times.
There was so much talk about stocks and selling stocks and when and virtually no other info about how anything worked in a macro or micro level. One mention of her manipulating the stock market because she is a time traveler and can and wanted financial stability to have a home base would have been fine.
It felt to me like the author wrote the book out of order and without a solid plan. Parts, particularly the Kenzie “twist” subplot were really poorly done and seemed sort of shoehorned in. Other parts just seemed underdeveloped.
Why didn’t anyone read over this and check of accuracy? There were surprisingly few references you could really pinpoint to a time yet they got them wrong. You can’t do that in a convoluted time travel book. It’s as if the author didn’t actually plan anything out or so any research which is a bold choice for a high concept book.
There was also a lot fat shaming and fixation with weight as well on the part of Oona that was disappointing.