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Book Review: My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh


My Year of Rest and Relaxation is a novel written by one of the exceptional new voices of our generation in literature, Ottessa Moshfegh.

This novel was named after what the unnamed narrator decides to do: take a year to herself. Within this year, she plans to forget about all of her life’s difficulties while drowning in Ambien on whatever medication she can fool her newfound psychiatrist into prescribing her.

My year of Rest and Relaxation is one of the many books that discuss mental health where the main character is especially struggling. She slips into a depressive state which quickly turns into tunnel vision of her solution which entails sleeping for a year.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshhfegh book cover. Credit: Phoenix Literary Arts Magazine

Rather than using her psychiatrist for legitimate therapy, she tricks Dr. Tuttle into believing she is a restless insomniac, leaving the crazed doctor to continuously prescribe new and stronger medications than the previous.

The novel begins with a brief description of the narrator’s life before her hibernation. Despite her amazing ivy league diploma, she’s working in a Manhattan art gallery with freshly deceased parents.

She also has a best friend named Reva, whom she met in college and hasn't left her side since, no matter how many times she asks. Reva seems to be the only recurring character besides the narrator's ex-boyfriend, Trevor, who has just as much relevance and contribution as the men who work the bodega downstairs.

Unlike most books, in this book the narrator gives very little insight into the reason that the narrator has fallen short of happiness. She constantly describes herself as a thin, attractive, “model-off-duty” looking woman, and with the recent death of her parents, she has inherited enough money to live comfortably for the rest of her life.

Some might reason that the loss of her parents was the trigger to her year of sleep, however she lacked a relationship with them, regarding them as nothing more than those who gave her life. Therefore it is a challenge to recognize her struggle as she seems entirely too full of herself and her problems seem bigger than anyone else’s.

Although this may seem like an off putting novel, it is not. Reading a book with no plot should be considered a crime, but in this case, it was underwhelmingly captivating.

On each page the reader is tricked into believing there will be some sort of turnaround or reach a climax but, there really is none. The entire book feels as though the author wrote it in a melancholic state, but maybe that's the point.

As a new generation of reading unfolds, we as readers must be open to the idea of mindless reading just as those are to imbecilic television. My Year of Rest and Relaxation is beautifully described as the tag on marked “no-plot-just-vibes.”

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