Cover Image: Luster

Luster

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Powerful writing and bleak. 

Thank you to Farrar, Straus and Giroux and Netgalley for an eARC copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
Was this review helpful?
Unfortunately, I did not finish this book so I will not be reviewing it. I reached a little under the halfway mark before giving up. This book just wasn't for me. I did not find any of the characters likeable and did not relate to them at all. I also did not enjoy the writing style.
Was this review helpful?
I feel like I've seen this book everywhere in the lead-up to its publication. You might either really love or really hate it depending on the parts of yourself (or your younger self) you see reflected back to you - or how much the slow burn of Edie's story resonates with you - but to be clear: it's just as good as all the early praise it's rightfully received.

I was sucked into Edie's story from the first page and I had a hard time putting it down. You'll wish she making different choices, but you'll never stop rooting for her to find her footing.

The writing is equal parts raw, punchy, observant, and timely with so many standout sentences and paragraphs, some you'll find yourself reading multiple times. This is an exceptional debut novel and I can't wait to read whatever Raven Leilani writes next.
Was this review helpful?
This was a tough read. The writing style is very cold and the actual story is extremely slow and depressing. 

This story got under my skin, it made me feel very melancholy. There were times I didn't want to read it, and other times I didn't want to put it down.  It turned out to be a very bizarre reading experience for me. 

I basically feel conflicted about this book. I don't know how I feel about it.
Was this review helpful?
I was immediately sucked in to this portrait of two women and a girl (tenuously connected by a shade of a man), who you may have never been or will never be, but with whom you connect intimately nonetheless. Finished the book with a headache because I failed to look up for water or to adjust the light as the sun set.
Was this review helpful?
3/5 stars for Luster y Raven Leilani.

This book is extremely difficult for me to review because I have very conflicted feelings. The taboo plot is what kept me gripped in this story, however, the writing style was not my favorite. The writing style was very raw and difficult for me to read. I felt like we were in the head of the main character and it kept me from fully engaging in the book. I felt that this perspective was very narrow and I feel like that was the point. Unfortunately, I don't enjoy this writing style but I could see how others would enjoy it. 

I loved the insight into the taboo sexual relationship that the main characters had. This is what kept me engaged in the story. It was so interesting and unique. I feel that this is where the novel shines.
Was this review helpful?
I felt so let down by this one. I had heard so many good things so my expectations were a little high. 

I will say the actual writing is beautiful: the author speaks with beautiful prose. Everything described vividly. I wish I was just more invested in the story. I didn’t get attached to any of the characters except Akila. The main character Edie just seemed cold and distant. Eric was weird and I couldn’t figure out why Edie or Rebecca were enamored with him. 

The casual violence that Edie seemed okay with I couldn’t understand. What she found in the monopoly box seemed important towards the end but then went nowhere. 

I just found myself bored.
Was this review helpful?
Raven Leilani's debut novel LUSTER follows a young Black woman as she navigates life as an artist and gets involved in an open marriage. Roxane Gay calls this "uncomfortable and stressful and beautiful and haunting and honest and ugly," and I couldn't agree more. I devoured this book, trusting Leilani at each twist and turn, and appreciated her insights on race and class and art. Edie is a deeply complicated individual, and she gets in your face from the very first page, trying to make you share in her loneliness. It's tangible. It's uncomfortable. It's heart wrenching. And even though the things she shows you are messy, you are rooting for her all the way. A truly exceptional debut novel; Leilani is one to watch!! 

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC!
Was this review helpful?
Not my favorite book I've read. Mostly the whole situation was just super odd and felt really disjointed and stilted. I know that it was meant to feel uncomfortable, but I'm not sure that the writing style was meant to feel that cold. I also found some aspects to be very unrealistic- maybe it's just me but I don' t know anyone who's slept with a single coworker let along 5+ within two years at a job. 

The best parts of this were the relationship between Akila and Edie and the short length.
Was this review helpful?
This one was a hard one to review. I was excited to read it after seeing it be compared to Girls and Insecure, two of my favorite shows. Unfortunately, I didn't get that vibe. To me, the author was trying a little too hard to be edgy and some of the scenarios just seemed forced and not really relatable. With that being said, he writing was beautiful and I can't wait to see what this new author does next.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for letting me provide my honest feedback in exchange for an ARC.
Was this review helpful?
Luster is an interesting novel and perhaps I'm in the minority in that I didn't find it entirely enjoyable, but rather only somewhat readable.  Indeed, the rave reviews are spot-on in that it is a timely exploration of race and class relations in our culture and the power dynamics that are inherent therein.  That said, nothing here is particularly enlightening, or even novel, for that matter.  I also found the course of events highly unlikely, inapposite, unbelievable.  Even if we suppose that the wife agreed to an open marriage (we have no reason to think otherwise), it's SUPER unlikely that she would invite her husband's mistress to live with them while he's out of town for business.  Even if, we suppose, that her rationale for doing so is because she's seeking insight/advice/help/support for her Black daughter (the MC is Black, the daughter is adopted, parents are white), are we really supposed to believe that this is how its all going down?

Side note: With regards to the daughter and MC's interaction with the police, I felt that other novels have done a better job of evoking the emotion, empathy and understanding of that experience as a Black (wo)man, i.e., "The Hate U Give."  And if we're looking for a novel that explores race and class relations, I can think of at least a few other novels that do it better; at a minimum do it more believably. (This isn't sci-fi or dystopian fiction, we are supposed to believe this is possible, right?)

On balance, I found the subject matter interesting and relevant to what's going on in our country right now, but the execution just wasn't for me.  Luster felt like a really long diary entry, but colder and lacking any relatable emotion (other than being young and broke), interspersed with some dialogue, and endless run-on sentences.  I dunno, perhaps I'm not the right audience for this type of writing. 

Kudos to Ms. Leilani for her effort.... but for me, it's a pass.

Thank you to NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for an ARC of this novel.
Was this review helpful?
I ran a review of this book in our 11 newspapers and websites. I ran a review of this book in our 11 newspapers and websites. I ran a review of this book in our 11 newspapers and websites.
Was this review helpful?
Review // Luster by Raven Leilani
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
The Facts: Contemporary fiction, Black Lit
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
The Feel: Slow-Burn, Character Driven, Lyrical, AWKWARD!
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
The Focus: Edie's in her early 20s and everything's falling apart. Let go from her job and unable to pay rent at her Brooklyn apartment, she takes up residence in the New Jersey home of Dan, her much older lover... and his wife. 
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Things To Know:
✨ "You're kind of aloof" he says, and all the kids stacked underneath my trenchcoat rejoice."
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
That may be one of my favorite lines of ALL TIME. So funny and so relatable. Leilani's writing was exquisite, and I loved the stream-of-conscious style. 
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
✨ This may be The Great Millennial Novel. Leilani touched on it all - feminism, toxic masculinity, race relations, white fragility, workplace expectations, friendships and relationships. She even drank La Croix and drove for Postmates. It wasn't pretty, but Leilani perfectly captured that time in your early twenties when you're trying to get your life together, but the world is seemingly working against you. 
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
✨ Luster was a brilliant character study, and I freaking loved Edie. She was a mess and made terrible decisions (I wanted to yell at her to STOP so many times), but I really felt for her. I watched an interview where Leilani explained how most Black female protagonists are strong, fabulous bosses (rightfully so), but Edie was the opposite. She was slightly neurotic. A bit of a nerd. She had IBS. She was unique and hilarious and I really wanted to hug her.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
✨ I kept wondering why Edie wsnted to shack up with this middle-aged white man, who was insecure and dopey and had pit stains in half his family photos. Also, why would his wife invite her husband's young mistress into their home? WHAT?! Well, misery loves company, and when you have nowhere else to go, you make desperate decisions. The fact that Eric and his wife adopted a Black teen who had no connection to her culture added a whole 'nother level to the story. Brilliant.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Read if you like:
✨ Girls
✨ Insecure
✨ Being uncomfortable
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Read this, especially if you're a Millennial!
Was this review helpful?
This novel REALLY didn't work for me, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it won't work for anyone. If you enjoy intentionally self-destructive main characters and stream-of-consciousness perspective, you might like this one. I've seen it compared to Queenie and My Year of Rest and Relaxation, both of which I've read and didn't enjoy. I think those are fair comparisons, as the main characters and tone are very similar.

I liked the premise of this book far more than the execution. The idea of a contemporary thriller about a millennial black woman entering into an open marriage between two upper-class white people sounds fascinating. Unfortunately, the potential for a great story gets lost in the main character's lack of self-awareness and the detached writing style. At the 60% mark, I find myself not caring about what happens next as I'm not connecting with any of the characters and the plot is buried in too many heavy-handed metaphors.
Was this review helpful?
Beautifully written and mesmerizing, at times overly so, "Luster" might leave a reader more intrigued by the author and their prowess than the plot itself. However, I'm eager to read Leilani's future work and am in awe of her talent.
Was this review helpful?
I really, really enjoyed this book. The format and writing style were different, but it really added to the reader's experience of the character and how she was feeling. This book was nothing I expected but truly kept me reading. Thank you so much for the opportunity to read this book. I'll be posting my review on Goodreads and Amazon and Instagram.
Was this review helpful?
LUSTER
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 💫/5 

The author, Raven Leilani is a new writer in fiction, and her writing is absolutely beautiful. The story is of a young black woman living in NYC. She finds herself broke, without a job, and in the middle of a suburban white couples open marriage. The book grabbed me hard in the first chapter, and then lost me as the book went on. Again, the writing was very vivid and impressive especially for a first time fiction writer, but the story line fell flat for me.
Was this review helpful?
Thanks to the Publisher and to NetGalley for an advanced readers ebook of this novel for a fair and honest review.

Sometimes I wonder why I use NetGalley because it feels like most of what I get approved for are mediocre stories desperate for attention. I was pleasantly surprised when I read this because it was one of the exceptions. I was hooked almost immediately. Do you know that feeling of when you start a book and you realize this is exactly what you wanted? That's what this was for me. Not only is the writing fun and easy to read, the story is fascinating.

It follows the sexual exploits of a young black woman and her involvement with a married man in an open relationship. It deals with the issues that can arise in this kind of situation as well as the sexism and racism and women have to deal with.

No one in this book is perfect, least of all our main character. She is a women who thinks she knows what she wants and unabashedly goes for it. Some of what happens is cringy, but that is life. I loved the story and the complexity of the relationship.

It reminded me of Queenie, but I enjoyed this a lot more.

If the premise sounds intriguing, I highly recommend. Fantastic book and I can't wait until Leilani comes out with her next book!
Was this review helpful?
I was fascinated with this novel about a young black woman in New York who has an affair with a married white man. He is married to a black woman and they have an "open marriage." The narrator winds up as a mentor of sorts to their young daughter. This was so interesting on many levels, from questions about class, race, marriage, sexuality, medicine and art. So well written and wise, as well as funny and moving. It captures being young in New York very well, and the way in which young people, especially African American women, can be taken advantage of because of their race and gender. I am so glad I read this and look forward to whatever the author writes next!
Was this review helpful?
I am in the minority here I guess but I didn’t care for this book. Felt like it rambled on. No real plot. And the ending was flat. I’m disappointed because I had heard great things.
Was this review helpful?