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Luster
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
160 posts | 157 read | 2 reading | 84 to read
Sharp, comic, disruptive, tender, Raven Leilani's debut novel, Luster, sees a young black woman fall into art and someone else's open marriage Edie is stumbling her way through her twentiessharing a subpar apartment in Bushwick, clocking in and out of her admin job, making a series of inappropriate sexual choices. She's also, secretly, haltingly figuring her way into life as an artist. And then she meets Eric, a digital archivist with a family in New Jersey, including an autopsist wife who has agreed to an open marriagewith rules. As if navigating the constantly shifting landscapes of contemporary sexual manners and racial politics weren't hard enough, Edie finds herself unemployed and falling into Eric's family life, his home. She becomes hesitant friend to his wife and a de facto role model to his adopted daughter. Edie is the only black woman young Akila may know. Razor sharp, darkly comic, sexually charged, socially disruptive, Luster is a portrait of a young woman trying to make her sense of her life in a tumultuous era. It is also a haunting, aching description of how hard it is to believe in your own talent and the unexpected influences that bring us into ourselves along the way.
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jspoelker
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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Pickpick

An interesting fictional account of a young 20 something who is an artist at heat but is trying to juggle a job, living in NYC, dating, her sexual desires, & being an African modern woman with few choices. She finds herself living with her married lover‘s family in suburban, NJ. This raw, straight forward first person POV brings the reader in twists and turns of a modern, artistic young black woman in a world of white privilege.

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brittanybooks
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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Pickpick

I jumped in with no idea what to expect. It was wild and witty and entertaining. #book74of2022

SRWCF Love that colorful cover! 4w
BkClubCare I loved this one! 4w
69 likes2 comments
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brittanybooks
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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brittanybooks
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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bthegood love this - 😁 4w
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brittanybooks
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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brittanybooks
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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brittanybooks
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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brittanybooks
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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brittanybooks
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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booksellerofyourdiscontent All of these quotes have made me laugh! 4w
33 likes1 stack add1 comment
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unreal
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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Mehso-so

This book was really good. It was well written and centred around a really interesting, if not particularly likeable, character. It just wasn't for me or at least not for me right now.

Alfoster So agree! It didn‘t settle with me well at the time too! 2mo
14 likes1 comment
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unreal
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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The first time we have sex, we are both fully clothed, at our desks during working hours, bathed in blue computer light.

#firstlinefridays
@ShyBookOwl

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blondie
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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On to the next. 🧡

(Or not. It‘s nearly 3am😅)

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monalyisha
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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Pickpick

I waited too long to review.

Here‘s what I remember: the prose is captivating & full. I started out thinking I was going to LOVE it…but the weight & unexpected pattern of the sentences lost me partway through, and I ended up just really liking it. It‘s about a young, unsuccessful Black artist who gets involved with a married couple. When she loses her job, she unexpectedly moves in with her lover, his wife, & their adopted, Black daughter.👇🏻

monalyisha 1/2: I liked that it felt modern, & culturally (& pop culturally) relevant. I loved that Rebecca, the wife, totally upends expectations for what you‘d expect a woman in her situation to be like. She‘s sharp, edgy, & kind of dark; she‘s trying, & failing - but that doesn‘t mean that she‘s always (or even often) likable. And, it‘s not really about her. At all! She‘s not even the main character. 😅 (edited) 4mo
monalyisha 2/2: I‘m not trying to center a white woman in a Black woman‘s story. I just found her so deeply strange. Anyway, what this story *is* about is the following: Art, privilege, using people, class, racism, sex, pleasure, casual violence, evolution, & growing up (even - & especially - when you‘re already grown). (edited) 4mo
ChaoticMissAdventures I really enjoyed this one, it is so different from most books I have read. And I thought it was much better than the Queenie which people rave about but there was too much negative drama for me. 4mo
Ruthiella I loved this book too. It was just the right amount of dark and light. I also loved Edie, even when she was self destructing. Can‘t wait to read what Leilani writes next. 3mo
68 likes2 stack adds4 comments
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Karons1
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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Mehso-so

Ummmm 🤨 not sure how I feel about this one apart from I‘d like to slap 👋🏻 Eric ! And edie and Rebecca not that far behind ! 3 of the most annoying characters ever, I‘m surprised this was a must read top pick of 2021/2020 when it was first published it is a far weaker version of little fires everywhere and such a fun age but also at times strangely gripping . Ticked off the TBR but disappointed ☹️

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monalyisha
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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“I am not good at parties…It is a foregone conclusion I will once or twice hurt someone‘s feelings deeply because of something I say or a face I make, which I will of course think about when I ride the train home, and actually, forever, even though I tried to be merry and keep the conversation light, even thought I can‘t sleep and I can‘t shit, and someone is dying but that one song tells you to slide to the left and you have no choice.”

monalyisha Pictured: my nephew, yesterday, at his first birthday party. He very much liked his cake. He did not very much like everyone singing at him. Same, kid. Same. 4mo
squirrelbrain Bless him! He looked like he LOVED his cake! 🎂 4mo
Dragon So cute !🎂 4mo
Soubhiville Precious! 4mo
Simona So adorable❣️ 4mo
61 likes5 comments
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Gissy
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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Mehso-so

This book has many sad parts on how this woman try to go on in her life without almost any support. But I found some part unrealistic. Sometimes I didn‘t know if I was in the past, present or just in her thoughts while she was thinking about her life. I don‘t know, it didn‘t work for me. 2.5⭐️

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marleed
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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Pickpick

This book reminds me of the detrimental impact on one‘s life if they‘ve never believed themselves to be seen. It‘s heartbreaking. It‘s beautifully written. I struggle here because I want a different ending for Edie‘s struggles, but remind myself this is why I read across genres.

Reggie I really liked this one. Got sucked in by the other woman-husband affair, but stayed for the complex friendship between the women. 4mo
marleed @Reggie I thought it was such an interesting character study. I was pulled in for the very same reason! 4mo
88 likes2 comments
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Night_Reader
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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Mehso-so

3/5 🌟

Loved the writing but couldn't relate to the narrator.

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LadyCait84
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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Mehso-so

Just finished this, the last book club read for 2021, and feel uncertain and conflicted. Leilani‘s style is often graphic and harsh, but also fluid and beautiful. The story itself, often painful. And I just kept wanting better for, and from, the characters.

Might take me a bit to determine if I liked it. And longer still to figure out if I understood it.

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abookdragonsretreat
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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Mehso-so

This book was a raw, honest story of a young black woman called Edie who has a passion for art and a brutal viewpoint of the world which is true.
The story is simple, but the ideologies and themes brought up bring an emotional rollercoaster of anger, frustration, gratification and pure honesty. The things Edie deals with, her thoughts and actions are questionable yet understandable, with a unique narration. Though the plot was empty and debatable

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abookdragonsretreat
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani

"Imagine living life so carefully there are no signs you lived at all."

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abookdragonsretreat
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani

"Keep something for yourself"

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Taylor
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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Pickpick

I was into it pretty much the whole way through. This novel gives me Don DeLillo vibes, for sure. (I love DeLillo.) There are a lot of really good, cutting sentences.

I particularly liked one part where the narrator describes scenery as reminding her of “a big-dick postmodernist novel” lol. (And yeah, that reinforced the DeLillo idea.)

A little work on story, and this could‘ve been even better. Leilani is a monster writer though.

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Taylor
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani

You think you should get what you want, when you want it, and life doesn‘t work that way. Art doesn‘t work that way, and that‘s why you‘re not as good as you could be….

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Litsi
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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Panpan

This super talented writer allows the narrative in her debut novel to slip and slide on her glossy prose. Reminds me of the lack of restraint in Truman Capote‘s debut. Some readers acknowledge her skill and hope for easier subject matter next time. But a person who writes about a young, black, masochistic sex addict who moves into her older, white lovers‘ house with his wife & his elementary school child is unlikely to step back from the edge..

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fredthemoose
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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Pickpick

I get how opinions of this book vary so widely. I spent the first hour or so not sure I‘d stay with it. The writing is noticeably good—there were dozens of phrases or sentences that made me think, “how did she come up with that?” But I had to suspend a lot of disbelief, also. Definitely worth picking up, but may not be worth seeing all the way through for everyone.

fredthemoose I didn‘t get the wife‘s motivation for getting close to the MC, especially when the husband spent so much time ignoring her. Being there for the daughter didn‘t seem like enough. Also, with such explicit rules about the open marriage, was there no contraception requirement?? 10mo
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Kazzie
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
Pickpick

Oh wow, this book was excellent. Real page turner. Fascinating to see the complex and complicated story unfold between the main character, the wife, and the daughter especially

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swishandflick
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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Panpan

When this first came out, I won a free copy on Goodreads and was so excited. There were so many polarized opinions at the time that I decided to shelve it for a while so that I could go in later with a blank slate and no specific reviews in mind.

I sooooo wanted to be in the camp that loved it, but ultimately didn't enjoy it at all. I tend to prefer novels with more of a plot, but even past that I just felt like I didn't "get" it. Big bummer.

KristiAhlers I didn‘t care for it either. 11mo
aperfectmjk Agree... it was definitely a bit "lackluster" (see what I did there) ? 11mo
Megabooks Nice @aperfectmjk 😂 I was also disappointed by this! 11mo
HOTPock3tt Totally agree with your review. 11mo
85 likes5 comments
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NikkiM5
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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Pickpick

I should get two bingos this month😁. #bookspinbingo Luster, first off, excellent book. I am looking forward to more from this author. Usually one-sided open marriage stories, of course usually for the man, (rant done) annoy me. This story actually intrigued me, it was especially powerful when the wife and daughter characters come along. Race, emptiness, aging, midlife crisis, depression and more, the list of topics covered in the book is long.

Reggie I liked this book. I picked up because of the affair intrigue. I felt bad for the wife when she says I try to be an evolved woman. Why doesn‘t he try to be an evolved one woman-man. He was a mess, hooked on drugs. But then I stayed for the relationship between the women. And when the little girl asks her not to ruin this for her because she‘s already been in homes that broke apart- 😭. I look forward to more from her also. Apparently this has 12mo
Reggie stuck with me. Lol. Great review. 12mo
NikkiM5 Agreed the female relationships became key for me. I wanted more info about Rebecca too. Like how did you get here woman? 😂 12mo
14 likes3 comments
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ChaoticMissAdventures
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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Pickpick

#WomensBookPrizeLongList

What a ride. This book is not for everyone. The entire time I was reading I was thinking of that Marie Kando gif where she is gleefully saying "I love a mess".
This is crude, messy, and incredibly uncomfortable. The storyline is implausible, and the tone is detached. And it somehow all works. I breezed through this having a hard time looking away and brushing off 2 others I had started before this.

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TracyReadsBooks
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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Mehso-so

The writing is very good and the voice is razor sharp which kept me reading but the story itself was just ok. I totally get why my coworker who recommended it, and the others who also raved about it, love it but I no raves from me. That being said, I would definitely read more by this author since it was a story issue and not a quality of writing issue for me.

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TracyReadsBooks
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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Going with a coworker‘s recommendation today.

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BookishTrish
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
Mehso-so

The writing was insightful and raw and timely. The plotting was uneven at best. The characters were often inscrutable, I‘m not sure about this one... #womensprize

squirrelbrain Yeah, I didn‘t love this one either.... 13mo
LeeRHarry I‘m not going to read this one - no one I know has liked it that much 13mo
37 likes2 comments
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rethier1
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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Mehso-so

I‘m not really sure how I feel about this one. The entire book was raw, lonely, uncomfortable, and depressing. Most of the time, I was confused about all the characters‘ actions. However, there were also moments of clarity, wittiness, and brilliance. The main character had the most interesting (and often disturbing) thoughts. The book incorporated themes such as racism, sexism, the power of loneliness, and the constant yearning to belong.

jewright I have this sitting on my shelf. 13mo
literaryloquacity I had a similar reaction - I couldn't relate to the characters or their choices at all and felt confused by most of the story. 11mo
rethier1 @literaryloquacity Exactly!! It was an odd one. 11mo
51 likes3 comments
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ChaoticMissAdventures
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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This months bookmark though 😆.
Guesses on how long these will sit on my tbr bookcase? Since I still have some from last year I have not read. What a bad habit...

#bookofthemonrh #tbrpile

LoverOfLearning That bookmark is epic 😂😂 14mo
17 likes1 comment
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ChaoticMissAdventures
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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#BOTM picks

I had forgotten Luster was an option here, as I try to read through the Women's Prize #Longlist So picking that one up, and going for an oldie (The Death of Vivek Oji) as my credit pick, because I have it on my TBR but none of this months picks. Just like real life BOTM is like a total representation of my TBR... I am always playing catch up.

Reviewsbylola I just got Vivek two months ago for the same reason. It was fantastic! 14mo
ChaoticMissAdventures @Reviewsbylola good to hear! I hope I read it... So far behind I haven't read February's books yet. 14mo
24 likes2 comments
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amyf0x
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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Pickpick

Edie, a twenty-something searching for meaning in New York, starts a relationship with a much older man in an open marriage and soon becomes uncomfortably enmeshed in his family life.

Read April 23-28
Rated 3/5 ⭐️
Book 24/60

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AnneCecilie
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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Mehso-so

This book wasn‘t for me. I didn‘t like the writing style to start with, and as I read on I never understood the characters. I don‘t need to like the characters I read about, but at least they need to feel real and their actions understandable, that was not the case here

Why would a 23 yr old girl have an affair with a 46 yr old married man? Why doesn‘t she have any friends? Why would the wife invite her husband‘s mistress to stay with them?

squirrelbrain Great review - I just finished this too and had much the same feelings as you. It was a weird, unrelatable situation. 1y
HOTPock3tt Same. I also gave it a so-so rating 1y
79 likes2 comments
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charl08
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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Pickpick

"Brutal" to the power of ten.
Young woman lives in New York and makes terrible decisions, whilst struggling with racism and poverty.

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charl08
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani

I sit at the top of the stairs and eavesdrop. When they begin to talk, it is in a very languid, businesslike fashion, their conversation filled with affirmations like yes, I understand you, yes, that is valid, like they are a couple of aliens who have and seen all the invasion agitprop and want to reiterate that they come in peace.

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squirrelbrain
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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Mehso-so

You can tell that this was a debut - the odd flash of brilliance but a lot of the book needed more work.

There is a really specific plot line that made it difficult to engage with (but I contrast it with Detransition, Baby that I‘m currently reading - also a specific, narrow premise and I‘m completely engaged)

The pacing was very choppy and some incredibly long pages of text in places, with no paragraphs.

Ruthiella I agree with your assessment and yet I loved this book. I can‘t wait to see what she writes next! 😀 1y
squirrelbrain I love that we can all have different views on books @Ruthiella - and I‘m also looking forward to the next book, even though I didn‘t love this one. 1y
Megabooks Fantastic review. I agree with a lot of your points. 1y
See All 6 Comments
Hooked_on_books Yeah, I‘m really not interested in this one. But Detransition, Baby is incredible! 1y
BarbaraBB I agree with you Helen. Great review ❤️ 1y
81 likes6 comments
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AlizaApp
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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Pickpick

A short but powerful novel about a young woman having an affair with a married older man, and their lives becoming entangled more than they could have imagined.

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Karmapen
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
Pickpick

I hated this and then I loved this and then it was over? I don‘t know! I felt like I was cringing the whole time but that was also the point? Just as I started to soften towards Edie the books ends, which sucks. It certainly made me feel A Lot. But it was mostly depressing. I would give it 3.5 stars if this app did star ratings.

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rmaclean4
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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Pickpick

I did not like reading this book and almost DNF several times. I am glad I pushed through. The writing is strong . This is a bleak violent deeply lonely world that the author has created. I did not find the married couple plausible in the end. Such a deeply sad read. I read this because it is on the Womens Prize Long List.

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readordierachel
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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Pickpick

"In other words, all of it, even the love, is violence."

I felt such a push and pull with this book. The story feels both familiar and fresh. The characters lives are simultaneously too messy and too neat. Some of the situations required considerable suspension of disbelief, and others felt cringe-inducingly real. Leilani's voice is so sharp and compelling and I look forward to reading more from her.

merelybookish Great review! I also liked it AND doubted a lot of the things that happened. 1y
Ruthiella Yes! I loved this one too. I was afraid to read on and yet was compelled to read on, if that makes sense. (edited) 1y
Reggie I feel we got hooked on the side chick story but stayed for the relationship between the two women? I really liked this book. 1y
See All 10 Comments
readordierachel @merelybookish I would find myself thinking "Nobodoy would do that" and then quickly become completely absorbed in the story again. 1y
readordierachel @Ruthiella That makes perfect sense! It's such an uncomfortable read but there's also so much to pull you in. 1y
readordierachel @Reggie Yes, totally. And the daughter. 1y
readordierachel @Reggie I loved when they went to the concert, and when Edie painted Rebecca while she was working. Great scenes. 1y
vivastory Are you doing okay? It's been awhile since you've posted. Message me on GR if you need to talk 1y
BarbaraBB Rachel! Where are you? Missing your posts. I hope all is well 💚🍀 14mo
readordierachel @vivastory @BarbaraBB Hi! I appreciate you asking. I'm so sorry I've been MIA. I'm bummed I missed the last book club! It's been quite a month. Haven't read a single book that didn't have pictures in it. Hoping to catch up on everyone's posts soon. Hope you're well ❤❤ 14mo
93 likes2 stack adds10 comments
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azulaco
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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I almost bailed on this book because it was SO uncomfortably unhappy. I was waiting for the narrator to confess her addiction problem, because I‘ve never seen that level of painful-to-read self-hatred except in an addiction memoir. But it has gotten better, and I truly love the writing. Almost done now. #tob2021

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mjtwo
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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Pickpick

5-10 Mar 2021
Not sure I enjoyed this novel - it was captivating and well-written. But also uncomfortable reading - Edie‘s inability to crawl out of her slump, Akila‘s willingness to endure provided she did not have to move again, and the power struggle and inarticulateness that was Rebecca and Eric‘s marriage. I do not really agree it is a novel about female friendship - I am not sure that is what the relationship between Edie and Rebecca was.

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beaconhillbooks
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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Pickpick

Intriguing and dark, I loved Leilani‘s voice even though her characters are mostly not all likable. Trigger warnings for a few hot topics but I liked that I didn‘t know where this book was going and how it ended.

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luvlee68
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
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Cathyloves2read
Luster: A Novel | Raven Leilani
Panpan

I honestly don‘t know what to think about this book. It was well written. I can tell that a lot of thought was put into it, but it didn‘t really seem to go anywhere. None of the characters were likeable. The main character didn‘t care about herself at all. The chapters were extremely long, which I don‘t like. Many parts of this book went on and on, it was easy to get lost. This book just wasn‘t for me.