Book Review: My Year of Rest & Relaxation

81q-2m7vwilTitle: My Year of Rest and Relaxation
Author: Ottessa Moshfegh
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Pages: 304
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby App
Date finished reading:  January 26, 2019

Goodreads Description: A shocking, hilarious and strangely tender novel about a young woman’s experiment in narcotic hibernation, aided and abetted by one of the worst psychiatrists in the annals of literature. Our narrator has many of the advantages of life, on the surface. Young, thin, pretty, a recent Columbia graduate, she lives in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan paid for, like everything else, by her inheritance. But there is a vacuum at the heart of things, and it isn’t just the loss of her parents in college, or the way her Wall Street boyfriend treats her, or her sadomasochistic relationship with her alleged best friend. It’s the year 2000 in a city aglitter with wealth and possibility; what could be so terribly wrong?

This story of a year spent under the influence of a truly mad combination of drugs, designed to heal us from our alienation from this world, shows us how reasonable, even necessary, that alienation sometimes is. Blackly funny, both merciless and compassionate – dangling its legs over the ledge of 9/11 – this novel is a showcase for the gifts of one of America’s major young writers working at the height of her powers.

My Review: I don’t know where to begin with this book. If I could bring myself not finish a book that I started, this would be the one. Please someone explain to me what the actual point of this story is. It was upsetting and irritating right from the beginning. I’m glad it was fiction, because I really don’t want to believe that anyone could be so self-centered and just a downright nasty human being. I never for one minute sympathized with the main character (aka the narrator).

Maybe I would have felt bad for the way her ex-boyfriend, Trevor, treated her, but she is the one that kept calling (on the verge of harassing) him and convincing him to come over after their relationship was over. I was horrified with how the narrator treated her friend, Reva. She shows no signs of sympathy when Reva’s mom dies, and then later actually uses the phrase, “Good luck with the abortion.” Who says this??? I was just horrified. Is this really what good literature is now?

I was immediately turned off not just by the narrator’s attitude but by the fact that after getting herself fired from a job, she decides to spend a year in a medically induced hibernation. I guess I had assumed by the title that someone maybe be taking a year off of working to rest and relax – must be nice to have the financial privilege to do so – but nothing about this hibernation plan of hers seemed at all restful or relaxing.

I found this actually insulting to all those individuals who are dealing with mental health issues. I, myself, and some friends of mine have had frequent visits to psychiatrists’ offices, and those visits, in my experience and my friends’ have been constructive and a process of healing. I didn’t have a doctor not remember me or my story from visit to visit or do nothing but try to drug me. I realize that this might happen, but I think this book will give those struggling with mental health issues a negative perspective on psychiatrists, and they will not pursue the help that they may need.

Last, I understood that with the mention of the twin towers periodically throughout the story, that this was leading up to 9/11. 9/11 did occur at the end of the book, and I was horrified by that scene and the narrator’s continued lack of feeling.

This was an appalling and senseless book.

My Rating: ♦ ♦