As we age, we have different life experiences that change us. We aren’t the same person at 18 that we are at 28 or even 88. Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh follows a woman’s reminiscence of her youth and her change from a naive young woman to the more worldly and wise woman she becomes.
Eileen Dunlop is a 24 year old girl who works in a secretarial position at the local prison for young male offenders. She leads a sheltered life in her childhood home with her drunkard, retired cop father. Eileen is not comfortable in her own skin, yet she is fascinated with other people and observes them intently, practically to the point of obsession. When an interesting, independent woman, Rebecca, comes to work at Moorehead with Eileen, Eileen becomes captivated by Rebecca and finds herself changing into a new person under her influence, for better or worse.
This story was interesting: in part because there were some aspects to Eileen’s inner monologue and thought process that is familiar in its taboo nature, as well as her interest in the criminal mindset and working in a prison, which is something that is rather interesting (ahem…Idon’twatchCriminalMindsobsessivelyandknowalltheepisodespracticallybyheart…ahem); however, Eileen is an unlikable character (although honest with accepting her idiosyncrasies that a majority of people actively deny or ignore) as she doesn’t act to change her life without the assistance of a drastic outside influence that forces her into action. The narrative is more of a character study than action driven, but there is a lot of activity that occurs within the last fifty pages that makes the first two hundred odd pages feel rather pointless in comparison even though it helps to set up the ultimate action.
Overall, I’d give it a 3 out of 5 stars.