I frequently find myself on BookTok, the side of TikTok teeming with recommendations of old and new books. So when I saw the pink cover featuring the painting “Portrait of a Young Woman in White” on the cover of the book “My Year of Rest and Relaxation,” I recognized it and bought it.
Despite the title, this 2018 book will leave you neither rested nor relaxed.
The book is the second novel from author Ottessa Moshfegh and follows a girl in 2000 and 2001 who, after the death of her parent, decides to use prescriptions she gets from a quack doctor to sleep for a year. I think at its core, the premise of this book is so simple, relatable and timeless, and that is why it has resonated with so many and has been on the New York Times bestseller list. Even though this novel was written in 2018, it’s a perfect testament to the fatigue the whole world is experiencing right now.
Being a human is tiring and to an almost farcical extreme but stays real and grounded through an unnamed narrator. This book has very little plot or dialogue, but it grips you with the strong, interesting narrative voice from a main character that I found myself hating, relating to and also feeling bad for.
The use of setting in the book is very unusual as well, and the pacing of it lends itself to helpful foreshadowing for the reader as the novel progresses. The ending was still a surprise though.
Though the ending feels a bit unresolved, I think a nice, tidy one would have felt disingenuous.
among the messy, real life plot of the rest of the novel.
After completing this book in less than a week, I knew I wanted to see what else Moshfegh has to offer. I recently purchased her 2020 novel, “Death in Her Hands,” and cannot wait to jump into it and experience the exciting emotional journey of her writing again.
Overall, this is a read that brings you on a rollercoaster of fun and entertainment while also being extremely introspective and hooking your emotions until the very end.