My Year of Rest and Relaxation- A Review

The cover of My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh.

Photo by: Penguin Random House LLC.

The cover of “My Year of Rest and Relaxation” by Ottessa Moshfegh.

By: Paityne Hume, Staff Reporter/ Global News

“My Year of Rest and Relaxation” by Ottessa Moshfegh is an experimental novel about a girl who attempts to sleep for an entire year in an effort to avoid her problems. This book had been recommended to me numerous times and I finally decided to pick it up. I was expecting it to be a more serious and realistic depiction of mental health in young women but I certainly was wrong.

The book is a character study on an unnamed young woman living alone in New York off of her dead parents money. She self describes herself as a “skinny, beautiful, blonde WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant).” She constantly speaks about how she is proud to have privilege and speaks very highly of herself. This is in contrast to her moments of existential dread in which she lays on her couch for days on end, wallowing in her past family trauma. Sometimes her friend Reva, an outgoing and clingy woman, comes to visit her attempting to get her to go out and do something other than watch movies. Reva endures her coffee stained, crumb filled couch and is never judgmental. Despite this, the main character is consistently terrible to Reva, she ignores her almost completely and even tells her she is pathetic or trashy multiple times. To put it plainly the main character is extremely unlikable, however, it’s completely intentional. It’s quite easy to see that the book is satire on the despair of privileged white women that is often hard to sympathize with. There is really no “plot” to this book, yet it is extremely entertaining to hear her inner thoughts and daily trips to the gas station. She makes a lot of specific lists of things she buys, movies she watches, or people she talks to online.

The main character decides to start seeing a psychiatrist in an attempt to get a prescription that might make her sleep even longer than usual. The psychiatrist seems to have a lot of problems herself, she forgets the main character’s prescription names and even her reason for visiting. She also has a large collection of porcelain dolls and cats roaming around the office. She visits this psychiatrist often, compiling a large collection of various prescriptions. This illustrates how psychiatrists and doctors in general are often flippant and irresponsible in giving out prescriptions leading to a lot of medication abuse.

Towards the end of the book, the main character decides to employ her ex artist friend to record her during the day, documenting her sleeping, bad eating habits, and prescription abuse. It lasts a few months and at the end of it she goes off of all of her medications at once and reemerges in a caterpillar-to-butterfly way. Suddenly she has a completely different view of life. She is ready to stop using prescriptions and stops caring so much about her appearance and how the public views her. It is actually quite inspiring considering the satirical content of the rest of the novel.

Overall, I recommend this book and give it an 8/10. It made me laugh, it made me sad, and it made me think. It is a perfect introduction to Ottessa Moshfegh’s unique writing style.