“‘I’m an open book,’ I say, thinking of all the men who have found it illegible.”

LUSTER by Raven Leilani is a mesmerizing debut novel with stunning prose, complex characters, and a story that is unconformable, darkly comical, and absolutely fascinating!!

Edie – a 23-year-old black woman living in New York City – is unenthusiastic about her low-paying publishing job, unfulfilled by her numerous casual sexual relationships, and numb to her directionless life. She then meets Eric – a 40-something, white guy in an open marriage – and begins a relationship. After unexpectedly losing her job and apartment, Edie is invited by Eric’s wife Rebecca to move into their home in New Jersey and act as a “big-sister” role for their adopted black daughter Akila. What unfolds is a striking portrait of a young, black woman struggling with and growing through a turbulent time in her life.

LUSTER is so fricken well written. Each sentence is achingly brilliant, like, I had to stop myself from highlighting every paragraph! As the GOAT Carmen Maria Machado wrote on Insta about this book: “The sentences wrecked me.” But this book is so much more than just sharp prose; Leilani uses her skill to tell a story that is crude, distressing, sexy, raw, humorous, important, and truly unique. I love that Leilani created such complex characters and used their complicated relationships to explore racial, gender, and economic inequalities. Though the characters are at times difficult to like and their actions are somewhat unexplainable, I was completed fascinated by all of them.

Do yourself a favor and read LUSTER!! Trust me, you will not regret it! I’m confident that this is only the beginning of a long, successful career for Raven Leilani so get on board now!!

** Farrar, Straus and Giroux provided the book for honest review.

  • Title: Luster
  • Author: Raven Leilani
  • Published: August 4, 2020 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
  • Booky Nooky Rating: * * * * *

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