Each year on her birthday (which happens to be January 1), Oona Lockhart leaps forward or backward in time. Externally, she’s whatever age she would be in the year she’s arrived, but internally, she’s only aged one year. Each time she leaps (I couldn’t help but have visions of Quantum Leap while reading this novel), Oona equips herself with knowledge for the year, a secret binder containing information on investments that can be made to support her independently wealthy lifestyle, and a letter from her previous self to help get her up to speed on where she is in time and her various relationships.
Like Quantum Leap, Oona has her own version of Al — in this case, it’s her mother and her mysterious assistant Kenzi, both of whom are there to try and help her transition from one year to the next.
Margartia Montimore raises some fascinating questions and implications with her time travel scenario, including can or should Oona try to make permanent connections with people who aren’t her mother and Kenzie and can she find happiness sometimes knowing where the story will end. Oona’s dilemma makes her utterly relatable and compelling as her frustration with herself grows due to what her younger self sees as arbitrary rules from messing with the time continuum and her own life. One such instance finds Oona leaping in and being married to Edward, a younger man who dreams of owning and running his own restaurant. Oona sees how the relationship unfolds in the year she’s with him only on her next leap to go back to the year before, at a time just before she met Edward and wonder if and how it’s fair to him and her to get involved.
If it all sounds a bit too deep, don’t worry. While Oona raises some deep questions, there’s still a great sense of fun of the novel. Oona’s taking guitar lessons out of order (at least from a chronological viewpoint) is a lot of fun, as is a subplot about her falling for her first (to her) music instructor and how their timing may not be the best.
The novel is helped by the addition of Oona’s mother and Kenzie, as well as establishing a few mysteries early that it will slowly and unexpectedly give answers as we journey with Oona. The novel also drops in a few Easter eggs to keep things interesting. Montimore makes sure to give closure to all the seemingly hidden details of Oona’s life over the course of the seven years we spend leaping through time with Oona.