Cover Image: Luster

Luster

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Member Reviews

This book has a unique writing style. It's like you never quite get into Edie's emotions or thoughts, but rather are told only what she does; leaving her feelings up to you to speculate on. Some of the metaphors and descriptions in this book were unusual and refreshing, so I look forward to seeing what the author can do in the future. However, since we didn't get that emotional component, I felt somewhat disconnected from the characters.

The characters are all flawed. This is not a plot heavy book but rather a character study of both the characters themselves and their relationships with each other. I felt that some aspects of the little plot there was were not addressed and so you weren't quite sure what exactly transpired. For example,  did Rebecca shoot the neighbor's dog with the gun? Did the attack by the police cause Edie's miscarriage? Is anyone ever going to address Eric's drug/alcohol abuse and his desire for violence towards women? I kept hoping we would see more growth from Edie...that she would realize she deserved better...but I guess true growth is slow and filled with misteps and falling into old habits.
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This book was a bit of a strange one for me - as a white, British woman in my 30s, there was an extra layer for me to get through to connect with Edie, the protagonist, and yet Leilani has created a character that manages to reach across that divide while still being centred in her identity as a Black you g woman in the US. 

The politics in this book all have the small p, in that it deals with the interpersonal rather than the societal, but that doesn't make the novel any less striking. 

There is an element of pathos to watching Edie constantly get into ridiculous scrapes, seeing her feel like a "failure" at art when she is only 23. At times I wanted to shake her, but at the same time, we see all the little micro-aggressions she faces from the white people around her - even well-meaning ones - and you can't help but feel for the pure exhaustion she must face in just keeping her head above water.

The reason it's a 4 star for me is because there were times when I felt like my attention was slipping in the second half, but it came good with a satisfying conclusion in the end.
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Raven Leilani's Luster is absolutely gorgeous -- the writing, the characters, the emotional depth: chef's kiss! It was an absolutely addicting read. I cannot wait to read more from this brilliant author.
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This book was quietly devastating, everything from the characterization to the circumstances and outcomes that came about. I loved the way she wrote this story, with quiet yet bold reflections that jump out from the page. I look forward to reading more from Leilani in the future - I definitely went out and bought this book.
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I was not the biggest fan of this book, I couldn't follow a longer I will, it was sporadic and all over the place, in my opinion, I wish that I could give a better if you at this book, but with not understanding, half of what I just read and not in a good sense is not a good thing.
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Stunning, well deserving of the praise it’s getting.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for letting me access an advance copy of this book in exchange for my feedback.
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What a delight! Raven delivers a book with a unique approach to how millennials see the world, race, sex, sexuality, family.  I love recommending this to people for a laugh, heartbreak, the beauty of the language.  The twist is delightful and not something I expected at all, and something I was delighted to follow my way through, and find again that in great writing there often are no villains, but complicated characters with complex and different longings that counted and clash against one another.  What a wonderful book everyone should read, even if they aren't normally into racy or sexy books.  This is more than than that, although I think we can all agree Raven's unique approach to issues placed here, including some of the really sexual, perhaps even vulgar (if you want to use that word) language is actually just delightful.  A book I don't think anyone else could have pulled off nearly as well, or at all.
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I was hooked from the beginning of the book (although it then did drag by the middle). I liked Edie as a messy character who seemed to know her flaws but also be so unaware a times. It was odd that she supplanted herself into the middle of a marriage for so many reasons. One because she was sleeping with the husband (the wife knew - it was an open marriage). And two, because they are white and she is black, but they adopted a black daughter that they don't know how to parent. So they invite Edie into their home to help their daughter be black?

While I understand parts of this book are meant to shed light on racism (and they do), other parts seemed just odd. Why did the wife invite Edie into their home? Why did the husband hide the fact that he was sleeping with her if it was an open marriage?

I didn't love this book, but I didn't hate it.
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Though I loved Leilani’s use of language and the overall story of Edie’s life, I wanted a more coherent or maybe just a more involved plot. I will definitely pick up whatever she writes next though!
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I liked this book, but man oh man were there some tough moments. I appreciated that, though. I think this book was pretty close to worth the hype for a summer read and was certainly timely. I definitely appreciated that this was an #ownvoices title.
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This book was so good. It moved along so quickly, and the lead character had so many different layers to them. I was intrigued by all the different interactions with the mom, and especially how it all wrapped up in the end.
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Not for me. I found the main character very confusing, mostly unlikeable, and her story just... odd. For most people this seems to be a "love it or hate it" book and unfortunately I'm in the latter category.
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Finished this book this past weekend and it’s taken me a couple of days to let it really sink in. It’s a look into the life of a Black woman in her twenties who’s incredibly lonely and directionless, who enters a relationship with a much older, married white man and his wife. There’s lots to unpack - racism, sexism, struggles with identity and self-worth. It’s raw, uncomfortable, and so, so messy. And the tension! There’s so much tension, especially between Edie (our main character) and the wife. The writing itself may not be everyone’s taste (it’s very “stream-of-consciousness” with lots of metaphors), I struggled a bit with it tbh, but in the end I think it works.
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I understand why this book is so well loved. There were moments when a line was so good that I just wanted to stop and savor it. However in general - the writing style wasn’t for me. It felt like every line had been rewritten to a point where the style was screaming “look at what I’m doing” instead of sitting back and letting the story be told. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the advance reading copy.
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The genre of a woman being her messy self is a recent one, but what Leilani does it take that genre, and elevates it to another novel. She asks you to imagine, what it means to figure yourself out when you do not have anything to fall back on? Can one even afford the luxury? On the way she sprinkles in with nuances weaving in questions of race, matrimony and what it means to be truly human.
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This book definitely set itself apart. It was a unique story that didn’t quite work for me. Great character development and very real dialogue. Just went most of the way with the brakes on.
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Edie is young, and trying to make her way in New York. She works in publishing, but what she really wants is to move to the art department. She wants stability, a sense of normalcy, she wants…something else.

She starts seeing a man she met online, who is 23 years older than her, and married (in an open relationship). Their relationship is complex and messy, and doesn’t become any more straightforward when Edie loses her job and ends up moving in with Eric and his family. And, well, you’ll just need to read this for yourself.

This book is lyrical, real, complex, and raw. It’s dark and gritty, but there’s some comedy in there at times too. Somehow this book both punched me in the face and also lulled me into an almost meditative state. It felt like more of an experience than just a book, and I’m amazed that this is the author’s debut novel. It also made me super glad I’m no longer in my twenties, yikes.

I don’t think I’ve done an adequate job of telling you all the reasons why you should pick this one up, but you should.
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The ending of this book turned it from a 4 star to a solid 3. I felt like there was no closure and that the author just stopped in the middle of writing. While the writing was super literary, it still felt accessible, if not a little quirky. There were a lot of heavy themes here that felt halfway explored, and I wanted a little more from the author on.

Would definitely read the next from the author.
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2.5 rounded up
I honestly don't know what to write for this book. The author would often spend so much time waxing poetic that sentences turned into whole paragraphs and I forgot what the point was. The only character I was really interested in was Akila the adopted daughter. By the end of the book all the characters remained unchanged. All this to say unfortunately Luster did not work for me.
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Luster is just my kind of book. It’s quirky, introspective, and just the right pace. It also has a voyeur feel to it as you get to dive into an open marriage through the main character’s involvement with the husband. There’s some really awkward scenarios that made me cringe in a good kind of way. I felt invested enough to be emotionally affected and also intrigued enough to keep reading.
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