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Eileen: Book Review


Eileen is a 2015 novel by Ottessa Moshfegh. It is Moshfegh’s first novel sitting at 272 pages; It won the Hemmingway Foundation/PEN Award for debut fiction and was shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize and the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award. 

Eileen’s movie adaptation starring Thomasin McKenzie and Anne Hathaway premiered on January 21, 2023, at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and will have its full release on December 8, 2023. 



Eileen, our main character narrates the story of her last week in her hometown X-ville, Massachusetts 50 years after her departure. 24-year-old Eileen works as a secretary at a juvenile detention center for boys called Moorehead. She lives with her father, an ex-cop turned paranoid alcoholic. Eileen’s mother died and her sister likes to pretend she doesn’t exist. Eileen lives this unhappy life and dreams of leaving for New York. Eileen’s sterile life is interrupted by the arrival of a new employee in Moorehead, Rebecca Saint John who turns out to be the trigger for Eileen to begin a new life. 



Eileen: Eileen is a disturbing girl, unassuming on the outside but jarring to read about… I love her. Eileen (outside of some stalking) didn’t do anything wrong, she was just a girl in a hard situation. 

Eileen’s Father: This guy sucks so much. If it’s not the racism that makes you hate him the pedophilia will be next. I wish Eilen had stuck around for just a bit longer so I could read about his suffering. 

Joanie: To quote Eileen’s description of her sister “whore”. Joanie appears once to briefly visit. It’s clear she doesn’t visit for her own sake but she has the funds to pay for a crappy elderly home for her father and get Eileen away from him.

Rebecca: C-O-W-A-R-D. If she was going to do what she did (very criminal and illegal btw) she should’ve doubled down and left with Eileen. 



While reading reviews of this book I had high hopes of enjoying it but after finishing the novel I couldn’t help but be disappointed in the ending. Don’t get me wrong the lead-up to the twist ending was incredible but I would’ve loved to see more from Eileen toward the end rather than a vague idea of how she went on. Eileen (the novel) reminds me heavily of the writing of Shirley Jackson in “The Lottery” or Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, though I did like this novel much more than both of those stories. 

I enjoyed reading about Eileen’s relationship with her body though it was disturbing at points. I like that Moshfegh didn’t shy away from Eileen’s disgust with herself and her faux-helplessness in the situations she encounters. 

I’d give Eileen a 9/10, if you enjoy books like Gone Girl, anything by Shirley Jackson, The Virgin Suicides, or Paradise Rot.

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About the Contributor
Ayanna Churcher
Ayanna Churcher, Staff Writer
I'm Ayanna, a staff writer for the Roseville Area High School Newspaper Club. I enjoy writing about school and community news. I'm a Junior and I like to go on hikes.

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