I don't think I've ever read a book with a more self-loathing character than Eileen. Oh, how she hates herself and the world! At least she does when she's 24 year old, working in a boy's detention center and living with her alcoholic father. The story is told by Eileen when she's an old woman and apparently she's happy in her old age. She's telling of a particular week in her life, a week before Christmas, when she meets Rebecca and her world is changed drastically.
This is a very character driven book, which is something I usually enjoy. It's also a very dark book, which is also something I usually enjoy. But this book goes a bit too far, to the point of being preposterous. I tend to think that it's supposed to be funny in its absurdness. If so, I just didn't see the humor. It literally turned my stomach at times.
I will say, though, that the author is a daring one and has created a very human character, albeit a very damaged one. I never wanted to give up on the book and wanted to see what the event is that Eileen keeps hinting about. That event doesn't come about until the last 20-30 pages. While that event was unexpected, it only left me puzzled.
Many people have loved this book and it has won or has been on the list for some honorable prizes. Unfortunately, I personally cannot recommend it.