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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

A lonely young woman working in a boys’ prison outside Boston in the early 60s is pulled into a very strange crime, in a mordant, harrowing story of obsession and suspense, by one of the brightest new voices in fiction So here we are. My name was Eileen Dunlop. Now you know me. I was twenty-four years old then, and had a job that paid fifty-seven dollars a week as a kind of secretary at a private juvenile correctional facility for teenage boys. I think of it now as what it really was for all intents and purposes—a prison for boys. I will call it Moorehead. Delvin Moorehead was a terrible landlord I had years later, and so to use his name for such a place feels appropriate. In a week, I would run away from home and never go back. This is the story of how I disappeared. The Christmas season offers little cheer for Eileen Dunlop, an unassuming yet disturbed young woman trapped between her role as her alcoholic father’s caretaker in a home whose squalor is the talk of the neighb…

Eileen: A Novel

by Ottessa Moshfegh

Overall Book Review:

I have been waiting for a book like Eileen to be published for a few years now. Ever since I read Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, I have been on the lookout for a book that would thrill me with its twists and turns, unpredictable events, and dark, gritty characters. This book was all I could have hoped for–and more.

I didn’t know much about this book before I began reading it, and so I was taken by surprise at the plot that awaited me. A woman named Eileen; a prison for boys that Eileen is employed at; hateful co-workers that snigger behind Eileen’s back–all of these things were wonderful and horrible all at the same time. The descriptions the author added about Eileen to reveal her personality bit by bit both delighted me and made me afraid. I couldn’t get enough of this book.

Though this story is probably technically fiction, I categorize this book as part mystery/thriller, too. The ending is a stunner, so prepare for that, and some of the scenes are a little disturbing and gross (let’s just say that hygiene doesn’t seem to be a high priority here). All in all, this book is great, and I think it will appeal to many different audiences and age groups.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Penguin Press HC

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language: 4 religious exclamations; 5 mild obscenities; 1 derogatory name; 2 scatological words; 3 anatomical terms; 1 F-Word derivative.

Violence/Gore: Violent death rituals mentioned; a character imagines a violent death; a character mentions that their mother is dead; a character is mentioned to strangle a baby, no detail is given; an animal is abused in a brief mention; a rape is mentioned with no detail; laws are broken; a character considers cutting their wrists; shoplifting is mentioned; an animal is mentioned to have died; a character contemplates shooting herself; a boy is mentioned to have slit his father’s throat after abuse, killing him; prostitution of young males is mentioned with no detail; inmates are mentioned to be abused; a character makes threats with a gun; a character is disruptive in public in a brief scene; a picture of a dead character is shown to a character, some blood is visible; a character shoots a character and blood is mentioned; a woman is tied up in a basement as a hostage; an abortion/unwanted pregnancy is implied.

Sex/Nudity:  A homosexual is imagined in a brief sexual scene in a character’s mind; an unmarried couple is mentioned to live together and is implied to be sexually active; breasts are spoken of in one scene; sex acts are referred to by a character; a sexual fantasy is described in a brief scene; a porn magazine is mentioned twice; French kissing occurs between adults; a woman is referred to as a “whore”; a woman observes her own nudity; a minor boy tries to force a kiss on a girl; an adult man touches his son in an inappropriate way; a minor boy has sexual relations with his mother; sodomy and rape are referred to, no detailed scenes; a father is mentioned to force sexual relations on his son; sex is implied between adults.

Mature Subject Matter:

Sexual assault, incest, death, prison violence, rape, child abuse, addictions, abortion.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

An adult man is mentioned to be drunk; drunk driving occurs; gin and beer are drunk; a woman is mentioned to be drunk; a character smokes a cigarette; a man smokes a cigar.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

Books and reading have always been an important part of my life. When I was very young, my grandma was the library director at our local public library. Years later, after she had retired, I became a librarian at the same library and worked there for several years before taking a part-time job at a local coffee shop, which gives me more time to do what I love, to read and to review books! A few of my favorite authors are Aimee Bender, Diane Chamberlain, and Curtis Sittenfeld however, I will read almost any book I come across! In my spare time you can find me reading (of course), volunteering at a wildlife animal rehab, or hanging out with my two house rabbits.