Cover Image: Luster


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Member Reviews

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!
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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.
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After hearing mixed reviews, I knew that I was interested in getting this into my collection. I don't really know what I was expecting, but what I got was so much more. 

Edie is a young, twenty-something girl living in NYC and trying to get by. She lives in a shitty apartment, has a job she doesn't like, and is hopping from man to man. After striking up an online relationship with a 40-something man, Eric, who is in a open marriage, Edie's life is turned on its head. Losing her job, her roommate and then apartment, turns into Edie having to move in with Eric and his family. And as one could imagine, is not an ideal situation. 

Now there were a few things that I was slightly hesitant about throughout the story. The parts where Edie is wanting Eric to hit her kind of make my skin crawl. This happens a few times throughout the book and just wasn't for me. Otherwise, I liked everything else about the book. I felt like Edie, though slightly an unlikable character, was very authentic. Many times when reading about a young girl in the "Big City," I'm left thinking that the story would never in a million years actually happen. This just felt real. 

Though I know that this type of story is not for everyone, which would normally include me, I highly recommend it. I flew through it in less than 24 hours (which never happens).
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This is an exceptional debut. It's uncomfortable, unfiltered, and uncompromising. This book may not be for everyone, but I really enjoyed reading it and I look forward to Raven Leilani's next book.
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Luster follows Edie, a struggling 23 year old whose fired from her dead end corporate job for misconduct. She quickly gets involved with an older man enthralled in his own mid-life crisis, and when she’s later evicted, moves in with his family and becomes a sort of live-in babysitter for their adopted daughter. Gorgeously written and at times painful to read, Luster provides a fascinating but brief  examination of race, class and sexuality in modern America.
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This is a story about a twenty-something black woman who is adrift. There’s an older man in her life, with much drama surrounding her affair. She has job problems. And she loves to paint. The plot is so unique and intriguing, that for a long while, I couldn’t put the book down. The sentences themselves are mesmerizing, and I kept marveling at how the author could be so skilled. The story, and the writing, are off-beat and compelling. I thought for sure this book would be my favorite book of the year.

At the 50 percent mark, however, things got a little boring. There was some description of video characters and Comic Con, and that didn’t interest me. There were also some stream-of-consciousness sections that seemed too long.

Still, I recommend this book—for the writing and the plot. I just think the second half could have been edited so that the plot stood out more.

I will definitely be in line for the author’s next book. She has an amazing voice.

Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.
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‘Luster’ is well-written, fascinating novel written in the perspective of Edie, an aimless, detached 23-year old living in New York. She begins a hot and cold relationship with an older married man from New Jersey and becomes entangled in his personal life. The plot was very unexpected and I had no idea what might happen next. The observations are at times hilarious and very dark. Reading in Edie’s perspective brought me back to my twenties and the numbness and uncertainty I felt. Edie acts carelessly and is seemingly unaware of or simply doesn’t care about the consequences that may result. The writing style drew me in and there was not an ounce of fat in the text. I can’t wait to see what Raven Leilani writes next.

Thank you NetGalley and Farrar, Straus, and Giroux for providing this ARC.
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4.5 stars rounded up 

As if your twenties isn't hard enough: working a boring admin job, living in a less than ideal apartment in Bushwick, and inappropriate sexual encounters at work, Edie gets involved with a married man in an open marriage - with rules. She finds herself slowly getting intertwined with his wife and adopted daughter. 

A coming of age story learning about what it means to believe in your talent, trying to make sense of your life, and the unexpected influences that help you find your way.

The writing in this one is beautiful. I found myself reading slower than I usually do to savour the writing. Leilani (a debut author, honestly cannot believe it based on how beautiful and sophisticated the writing is) does a masterful job portraying Edie's loneliness and want for belonging. The more I think about it though, all of the characters in the book represent varying degrees of loneliness, and come together and forge relationships in unexpected ways. 

I don't really know what else to say about this one other than it is a beautiful debut!
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An ARC was provided by NetGalley and Farrah, Strauss & Giroux in exchange for an honest book review. My thanks to both for the opportunity of reading this addictive debut novel.
Raw, sad, smart and sharp are just a few words to describe Raven Leilani’s writing.
Edie, the main character is 23, black and struggling and has made some bad decisions in her young life. She works for a publisher but longs to be an artist of her own merit. She meets and begins dating an older white man online. Eric, is in an open marriage with his wife Rebecca who provides guidelines to this arrangement. As the story unfolds, Edie becomes entangled in their family life and that of their 12 year old adopted black daughter Alika. 
This novel touches deals upon class, sex, race, loneliness and the search for something of your very own.
This is a page turner, a thought burner and tackles so many emotions in 240 pages.
I highly recommend this novel and kudos to Raven Leilani on the terrific read.
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I heard a lot of talk about this book leading up to it's release and I was really excited about it. I loved the cover, but right away I knew it wasn't the book for me. I didn't enjoy the writing style at all. Very stark kind of all over the place and long run on sentences all made it hard to read. I also couldn't really connect to the characters. However it stuck with me and I felt like I needed to really take my time before reviewing. I think this might be one of those books that I come back to later and change my opinion but my first impression was not favorable.
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*Thanks so much to Farrar, Straus and Giroux for providing me with an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.*

The story is brutal and honest — raw like an open wound. It is, at times, haunting and painful to read, but also impossible to turn away from. I found it completely addicting from start to finish.
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Luster can be read so many different ways; I mean the title. Is it the luster of a new job, a prestigious one, or the relationship, or the value of something precious. Does life lose its luster? Or should it be read as someone who lusts after someone or something? Beats me.This is an account of a young woman who falls into an open marriage where she is bother buddy and f..buddy. Plus she’s a role model for a youngster, or at least an object of curiosity and wonder. As for the sex, II think it’s more neurotic than erotic. I definitely was not a luster but I was looking to find the luster, and failed. Interesting experiment though.
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Luster was a riveting incredible story that stayed with me long after finishing. Edie is a 20 something barely surviving in New York when she begins a relationship with a man in an open marriage. What follows is a life changing journey for her, one in which she begins to find herself particularly through her interactions with his wife and his adopted daughter. I can’t wait to hand sell this book.
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This book caught me by surprise and I flew through it! The beginning was so strong and stayed that way but the end kind of left me wishing there was a different ending - it wasn't bad, but it wasn't what I was expecting. 

This story is about a young woman who is trying to navigate life and finds herself in an interesting situation with an older man and his family. This book touches on a lot of relevant topics including sex, love, companionship, and so much more. This author does not hold anything back (language, POV, etc.) which is one of the best parts about this book. I don't know if it's a true story, or loosely based on one, but I feel as though a lot of individuals can resonate with something in this book.

A great book of 2020, I look forward to reading more from this author.
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Stumbling through all of Edie’s decisions with her will make you feel like you’re back in your post-college years, trying to figure out — well, basically everything. This is an uncomfortable read — but it will make you think about all the ways life changes, and all the darkness that ensues along the way. It’s raw and frankly disturbing in places, but written with a transparency that makes you actually feel like you are honestly in Edie’s brain. Life is messy and ugly and uncomfortable and Raven Leilani’s debut manages that message beautifully and disturbingly. Also appreciate that the character in her 20’s isn’t any more fucked up than the characters who have bank accounts and homes.
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First and foremost, I really enjoyed Leilani's writing.  It was colorful and witty and was beautifully written.  I just struggled with the story itself.  The beginning hooked me in, and the narrative told her story well.  The main character is complex and intriguing, but really, she’s a hot mess.  I found it be unbelievable, and it became very distracting.  

The basics of the books is a story about a young Black woman who is an aspiring artist.  She was just fired from a publishing job based on her conduct and is living day-to-day.  She then gets evicted from her apartment. Eric is someone she met online.  He is a white man who is older than her, successful, and has an open marriage.  She eventually meets Eric’s wife, Rebecca, and this is where the story takes a bizarre turn.  In another twist, the couple has an adopted daughter who is Black.

I feel like the author tried to accomplish too much in writing this book.  That left it feeling unfinished.  I would read Leilani again. I just couldn't get engaged with this story.

Thanks to Picador for an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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This book is incredible - it's funny, in a twisted way, and every character is at least a little bit awful, but it's so hard to put down! As Edie gets caught up in increasingly bizarre situations, she can't seem to find her way out: she's, in some ways, letting her path take her where it does, all while noting the racial and sexual subtexts to how people interact with her. This book is smart and compelling - it goes beyond the standard "disillusioned young New Yorker just going through life" trope, with moments of domesticity that counter montages of New York experiences.
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It is so uncomfortable to read about someone else’s sexual journal. Especially when they are being judged on their actions. And they put weight on those judgements. However. This book was empowering and necessary on when you should say no, a woman finding her life, love and a family. Many twists and turns. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
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Thank you so much to Netgalley and FS&G for this incredible read! 

This book is an absolute fever dream! Raven Leilani is a supremely talented writer with the most unique and painfully observant voice I’ve read this year. Through Edie, she writhes on all the discomfort and stress that comes along with being in your early 20s, seeking where and how you belong in the world. 

Leilani drops you in a mind of a woman with no impulse control, and therefore, leaves you worrying about how she’s being taken in by the world around her (like we are wont to do in our twenties). It’s a clever device that both endears and repels you to Edie. She’s so alone with every card stacked against her, she’s a millennial, a starving artist living in New York City, she’s predisposed to be obsessive, volatile (mom) and detached, absent (dad) and so, grasps for connection and stability in all the wrong places. This calls for quite a visceral engagement as Edie repeatedly falls down treacherous rabbit holes and you can’t help but squirm, wishing you could hold your hand out and catch her. 

What an astonishing debut!! Raven Leilani is one to watch!
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Could not get into this one at all. Soooooo much hype for this book and it just wasn’t for me. Read a few chapters but the characters seemed so fake. I could not anticipate where this was going but had no patience to follow.
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