By Rebecca C.

Readers are advised this is a review of an adult novel that may not be suitable for all teen readers. Content Warnings for this novel include: eating disorders, drugs, sexual assault, toxic relationships, and mentions of suicide.

You know how Netflix sometimes labels its shows as “off-beat?” I thought I covered all the bases of that genre after watching Russian Doll and The Umbrella Academy. Let’s just say I didn’t… until I read Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation, which features a privileged blonde from Y2K New York City. Despite what shallow, Gossip Girl-like impressions our narrator may initially give you, there’s more to the story.

After graduating from Columbia University with a major in art history, our unnamed narrator carelessly bumbles through life, eventually over-indulging in sleep to escape such an irritating world. To tune out family troubles from her past and first-world problems in her present, she takes a shot at getting some beauty sleep for a year. With the help of a wacky, regency core-obsessed psychiatrist and various types of drugs, she embarks on her tumultuous journey. However, the outside caves in as people interfere with our sleep heroine’s plans. Her toxic not-boyfriend pulls his classic manipulation tricks. Her jealous friend, Reva, comes in uninvited on the daily. And, a disturbingly eclectic art hack infiltrates her thoughts again and again. Amid all this social chaos, Ottessa Moshfegh calls out societal issues such as ignorant racism and the idealism of certain body types. You’ll be amazed at how she uses the Y2K setting of the book to exacerbate these systemic problems within the plot. 

Most books have that one character who everyone loves. I bet some people from Six of Crows or Percy Jackson come to mind *wink wink*. My Year of Rest and Relaxation cuts through the pattern of the loveable character by making each person flawed in the most provocative, reflective ways possible. Moshfegh borrows societal flaws, embeds them in her characters, and satirizes them through the narrator’s lens.

Ottessa Moshfegh’s satire sprinkles a generous handful of humor onto each chapter to keep you interested—and thinking. Her narrator has an unfiltered yet artistically curated voice that will raise your eyebrows.

Moshfegh’s recipe for a novel also calls for vivid similes and metaphors to uncover riveting character traits. Her use of recurring imagery and comparisons not only adds an edge to the plot but also develops the narrator’s understanding of her relationships with others. My Year of Rest and Relaxation deepens even when you thought the narrator dug six feet of psychological dirt.

If I had to dedicate a painting to this BookTok-famous novel, it would picture the stars because it will take you places you never thought possible. On that journey, it will remind you that the mind is not only filled with limitless creativity but also ridden with dangerous obstacles.

Rating: 5/5 VHS Tapes of Sister Act (starring the one and only Whoopi Goldberg)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Get your copy of My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh here!