Review: “My Year of Rest and Relaxation” by Ottessa Moshfegh

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I wasn’t going to review this book after reading it in January. It’s well-written. Humorous in parts. Ottessa Moshfegh has a distinctive and pleasant voice. However, upon finishing, my overall opinion of “My Year of Rest and Relaxation” was the equivalent of an eye roll. Even though it’s fiction, I found it impossible to suspend my disbelief when it came to certain aspects. But then, COVID-19 shut the world down…

About the Book

“My Year of Rest and Relaxation” by Ottessa Moshfegh

The narrator of “My Year of Rest and Relaxation” should be happy. She’s a twenty-something girl living in New York. She works at a trendy art gallery and lives in an apartment in the upper east side of Manhattan. Thanks to a sizable inheritance from her parents, she doesn’t have a need or want that goes unfulfilled.

Yet, she’s miserable. Her parents are dead. Her Wall Street boyfriend treats her like crap, and her relationship with her best friend seems toxic and borderline sadomasochistic.

Her solution to her misery is to check out of her life for a while. Using an insane combination of drugs prescribed from a loony therapist, she decides to spend most of the next year asleep.

The premise of the book was interesting to me:

  • What do you do when your life is miserable, and you don’t know exactly why or how to fix it?
  • What if you could do a reset on your life? You know, quit your life for a while, then come back to it with a fresh perspective?

My Review

“My Year of Rest and Relaxation” by Ottessa Moshfegh is a a darkly comical view of depression and, perhaps, mental illness. It’s somewhat relatable to anyone who has ever suffered with it. But while the premise was interesting, I couldn’t seem to fall in love with the book. The narrator came across as self indulgent, selfish, and flat out insufferable. In addition, I found the story unbelievable. The narrator self-isolates for a year, but she can only afford to because of her inheritance. It was a little too easy. It’s as if the inheritance was a convenient plot device that was used simply to make the story itself plausible. Without the inheritance, the author would have had a lot more ‘splainin’ to do in the book.

However, with all that said…

In these times of COVID-19, “My Year of Rest and Relaxation” is a story I return to often in my mind. These days, the idea of self-imposed isolation isn’t so foreign. The narrator seems less insufferable and more like someone living in my quarantined world (minus the cocktail of drugs. I have wine!) And these days, I recommend the book. It’s humorous in places. It’s light and easy. The inheritance bit still seems too contrived (to me), but heck… just a few months ago, I would have told you a deadly virus infecting the world’s population was contrived too. What do I know? 🙂

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