“Eileen” by Ottessa Moshfeg

Eileen is Moshfeg’s second novel, a psychological thriller about a young woman who works at a juvenile detention center for boys and who gets intentionally wrapped up in a gruesome game (and unraveling) of murder, violence and abuse.

The novel is narrated by an older version of the female protagonist Eileen. Eileen (the young Eileen, at least) is not a good person. She’s selfish, crass, judgmental, cruel. She yearns to be special. She feeds on the pain of others.

And yet — she can’t help being the way she is.

Her father, whom she lives with in a town only ever referred to as X-Ville, is a former police officer, and a simultaneously neglected and abusive alcoholic, her mother has abandoned her. When the enigmatic Rebecca enters her life, Eileen can’t help but follow her to the ultimate demise of herself and those around her. But as readers, privy to the fact that the occurrences around Rebbeca’s appearance lead to Eileen leaving X-Ville behind, we are already aware that this demise is a promise: dark and uncompromising and freeing all at once.

Eileen was published by Penguin Press in 2016.

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