Cover Image: Luster

Luster

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Member Reviews

This was truly a shock & awe story...from the subject of a young black girl finding herself involved with a white suburban man with an open marriage to the bombs the author drops, with her most shocking commentary often dropped smack at the end of a paragraph. I actually really liked this boldness and found the writing at times captivating but found the overall story development a bit lacking. Entertaining for sure but much like other readers I find myself still reflecting and not changing much from my initial lack of being unable to describe quite what I was reading. I suspect people will either love Edie's voice or find it wholly unrelatable, not much in between.
Thank you for the opportunity to read early & review!

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Holy cow, what a ride. Luster tells the story of a young girl from Brooklyn who starts an affair with an older man in New Jersey. The writing is sharp and witty and at times extremely funny. The attention to detail of the characters was so deep that I feel like I knew these people directly. I particularly enjoyed the story and rifts between Rachel and Edie. Its hard to believe this is a debut novel, and I can't wait to read more from Raven Leiliani

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This book has one of the most perfect first sentences I've ever read. It's a smart look at an intergenerational, interracial, and class-mixed affair between a white married man in an open relationship and a young black woman in her twenties who is struggling to pay the bills.

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Wow! What a book! I have no words to express the intensity of this book. As I am still working on my final review I want to say Please DO NOT SLEEP ON THIS BOOK. I promise you won't regret it. Thank you, Farrar, Straus and Giroux for the gifted copy.

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Luster is a well written story that catches you off guard. It is well written and the characters are fully developed! It is about Edie a young woman who doesn’t always make the right decisions regarding her personal life, yet she seems to drift along. This story very honestly portrays how so many young women think or view life. Sex and race are subjects that are very relevant and always will be. This book will start those conversations. Good choice for book clubs.

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I thought that this book was going to be a sharp, scandalous read but it mostly turned out to be a slew of what felt like incessant run on sentences and depression. I struggled to find the narrators voice and found myself altering her sound in my head with each new page.

As it turns out, the narrator, Edie, is nothing more than a depressed Zoomer longing for the things she didn’t get from her childhood. I did not feel that this was a satisfying read whatsoever and after finishing it I really just can’t shake the feeling of what the hell did I even just read.

There was definitely potential in the story line but the plot just did not deliver

Thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for advanced copy!

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A twenty-something whose life is a bust.
Weaves a story of self-loathing, of race and of lust.
They say three’s a crowd,
And I was constantly wowed
By the dance between delight and disgust.


—————

Just trying to make it through her twenties, Edie finds herself involved in the marriage of an older married couple.

Phenomenal. Out in August, Luster is a stream of consciousness fever dream. A hilarious, kinetic poem on the insurmountable weight of the world only a twenty-year-old can feel where everything is both so important and utterly meaningless.

Every sentence was my new favourite.

“...I cover his mouth and say shut up, shut the fuck up, which is more aggressive than I would normally be at this point but it gets the job done and in general if you need a pick-me-up I welcome you to make a white man your bitch though I feel panicked all of a sudden to have not used a condom and I’m looking around the room and there is a bathroom attached, and in the bathroom are what look to be extra towels and that makes me so emotional that he pauses and in one instant a concerned host rises out of his violent sexual mania, slowing the proceedings into the dangerous territory of eye contact and lips and tongue where mistakes get made and you forget that everything eventually dies, so it is not my fault that during this juncture I call him daddy and it is definitely not my fault that this gets him off so swiftly that he says he loves me and we are collapsing back in satiation and horror, not speaking until he gets me a car home and says take care of yourself like, please go, and as the car is pulling away he is standing there on the porch in a floral silk robe that is clearly his wife’s, looking like he has not so much had an orgasm as experienced an arduous exorcism, and a cat is sitting at his feet, utterly bemused by the white clapboard and verdant lawn, which makes me hate this cat as the city rises around me in a bouquet of dust, industrial soot, and overripe squash, insisting upon its own enormity like some big-dick postmodernist fiction and still beautiful despite its knowledge of itself, even as the last merciless days of July leave large swaths of the city wilted and blank.”

Goddamn. Perfect.

Thanks to Farrar, Straus and Giroux and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC for review.

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I closed the last page of this book with a sense of wonder of what is I just read. A deep-dive character study? An emotional thriller? A fever dream of ennui-laced lust? Maybe all or none of the above. It’s hard to place this book.

On its face, it is the tale of Edie, a wayward Bushwick inhabiting, young black woman in a dead-end job with little motivation who embarks on an affair with Eric, an older white man in an open marriage. The opening details of the affair felt a little clichéd but as soon as Edie’s foray with Eric bleeds over into a foray with his wife Rebecca and adopted daughter Akila, the story becomes strange and uncomfortable and utterly readable. All of the characters are annoying and selfish and messy, but they hold up nonetheless.

Leilani has her own style that can drag at times but can also make some jabs at the solar plexus. She manages to get in some not so subtle commentary on race and class without slamming the reader over the head. She can also be rather funnily self-aware, having Rebecca exclaim to Edie at one point, “Because you are not specific…All of this, it has been done.” Indeed, the mid-life suburbs-dwelling man shagging the younger messed-up woman has been done, but isn’t Leilani trying to cast it all in a new light? She is and she does. It’s a strange little trip, this book, but one worth taking.

I look forward to seeing what Leilani will do in the future.

Thank you to Netgalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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I've been excited about this book since I first heard about it, and it did not disappoint. The characters sucked you into the story and the story kept you turning pages as fast as you could. I devoured it in a day. I loved it.

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I was curries to know how a young woman fit into the lives of a couple in an open marriage. Satisfying end but I found the novel to be a bit plodding, mostly do to the pretentious language. But, all in all, a worthy read.

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First, thank you so much to the publisher and Netgalley for the ARC. I don’t even really know how to review this book. The author is clearly incredibly talented, but it was just too far out of my wheelhouse to give it a fair review.

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I know I am in the minority, but I did not like this book. The author is talented but I felt that each chapter was one long train of thought run on sentence. I guess that between her style and the subject matter it just did not appeal to me. The main character is a you black woman having an affair with an older, white married man in an open marriage. She becomes very involved in his home and personal life and things get very messy. It is a short book, so I did finish it. Thanks to Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read it early.

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Raven Leilani’s hypnotic debut novel, Luster, is every bit as cathartic as it is cerebral in its devotion to one Black woman’s pursuit of harmless passion and purpose in an era inured to uncertainty. Such is the plight of a young woman named Edie who — staggering over the hurdles of misogynoir as an editorial coordinator and aspiring artist — wills herself into an open marriage at the temptation of an older white man she meets online named Eric. Suddenly homeless and unemployed, Edie is surprised when, after being caught rummaging through her home, Rebecca — the wife — meets Edie’s cynicism with compassion, permits their tryst to continue (under her terms), and extends shelter and money in exchange for one request: serve as confidante to their adopted Black teenage daughter, Akila. What emerges from this extraordinary invitation — the incubus of Edie’s suffering and rueful affection, a blood-deep sisterhood between Black girls — is the pulverizing story of a woman discovering the ways her weaknesses can set her free.

Luster marks the arrival of a writer who inflames her pages with an infinite scroll of pathos and precision that made this debut novel mercilessly unputdownable. So it should come as no surprise when Leilani takes her place on the front lines of the new literary generation. Mark my words, Raven is a phoenix on the rise.

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Exceptional writing - very much loved the narrator’s voice - but struggled with some plot elements that I didn’t find engrossing enough to sustain my attention/care for these characters.

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What an insane book. I don't know how to make sense of every thing I just read. Sure, there was comprehension, but the absurdity of this book negates its every little intelligible thing, making for a wildly perplexing read. The story is familiar enough, but certain innovations to this tired old story are made, which are amazing. Which makes this book fresh. New. Original. 

Also, can I just say that I wasn't expecting this book to be so funny? Like laugh-out-loud funny? But I guess with the ridiculous premise of the story, it's bound to be hilarious in one way or another. There were times when I found myself going back to some lines to laugh again. I'm so stoked for Raven Leilani and her debut novel and excited for more stories from this new writer. 

Huge thanks to Farrar, Straus and Giroux and Netgalley for the ARC of Luster by Raven Leilani.

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I loved this book. What a fantastic, impressive debut! Leilani spins an intriguing tale of a young black woman in New York City who's a bit lost and trying to figure out who she is. Edie is contradictory--she's contrary and eager please, aimless and driven, keenly observant yet often oblivious when it comes to introspection; in other words, she's a true, three dimensional character. Long sentences and paragraphs by lesser authors often leave me either distracted or drained, but Leilani's gorgeously-constructed run-on sentences kept my eyes glued to the each page. Leilani is definitely an author to watch, and I'm so looking forward to reading whatever she writes next!

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I saw Luster on Buzzfeed's most anticipated books of 2020 and knew I had to get it. The concept of an open marriage is intriguing to me and I wanted to read a little more about it.

I enjoyed this book and the complexities of the relationships in it!

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The author of this debut novel has a sharp and well-formed voice that is a pleasure to read and is certainly one to watch in the future. However, I found myself bogged down in this book by the relentless depressive voice -- even as she's living through a pretty unlikely series of events, Edie's outlook doesn't transform much. She's funny and a sharp observer but lives at a remove from herself and everyone else until an occurrence near the end of the book that inspires her to make more art and finally lightens up the tone; my experience was that it was a bit of a slog to get to that point, and then I appreciated the end of the book.
Thanks NetGalley for the e-ARC.

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I am in awe. This debut novel is complex, hilarious, beautiful, and difficult, while being gorgeously written with every sentence. It’s hard for me to review this book as I feel anything I say or adjectives I apply won’t do it justice, but overall, I am simply so glad I read it. Raven Leilani an excellent writer (and artist!), crafting a wholly original and moving story about a young black woman discovering herself amidst complicated circumstances (to put it simply). The narrator, Edie, is one of my favorite characters in recent memory. This book joins Real Life by Brandon Taylor as one of my favorite reads of the year (and they are both debuts!). I hope you all read this incredible novel upon release in August.

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Leilani’s "Luster" is a hypnotic and cathartic debut novel, its predominant theme being the pursuit of passion and purpose in an era inured to uncertainty.

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