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Sharp, comic, disruptive, tender, Raven Leilani s debut novel, Luster, sees a young black woman fall into art and someone else s open marriageEdie is stumbling her way through her twenties sharing 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 marriage with 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 knowRazor 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 Luster follows Edie Edith , a young black woman who lives in New York and works in publishing She is broke and hardly makes enough for rent and other necessities She doesn t shy away from new men and sex and some of her bad sex decisions at the workplace cost her job She then finds herself in the middle of a suburban white couple s open marriage I LOVED the book It is a joy to find a book that pays such attention to crafting characters You can predict how the book is going to end But I w Luster follows Edie Edith , a young black woman who lives in New York and works in publishing She is broke and hardly makes enough for rent and other necessities She doesn t shy away from new men and sex and some of her bad sex decisions at the workplace cost her job She then finds herself in the middle of a suburban white couple s open marriage I LOVED the book It is a joy to find a book that pays such attention to crafting characters You can predict how the book is going to end But I would still recommend it for the way it makes you feel It is morose, sad, witty in a dark way and the kind that you do not want to leave I was heavily invested in the characters I was keen to follow the three of them to see how it is all going to end The white couple have adopted a black child and the novel also explores how the marriage and the parenthood in general plays out for the child.Raven Leilani surprises us with twists, unpredictability in her characters, hurried pacing at times and sudden shifts Each character is mysterious in its own way Is the husband happy in the marriage The wife, with a job that deals with cadavers, calls it a form of art Edie, an artist herself, tries to find the muse to paint.A brill debut I will be thinking of this for a long timeRating 4.5 5Much thanks to FSG for an e copy of the book All opinions are my own.Blog Instagram Twitter Facebook Raven Leilani s debut novel is a spectacular examination of loneliness and the wish to belong 23 year old Edie is adrift After making some inappropriate sexual choices, she loses her admin job in the publishing industry and finds herself with nowhere to go until the wife of her married lover takes her in Edie now witnesses their unhappy marriage first hand, and she slowly becomes the only confidante of their adoptive daughter Akila who, until then, hardly knew any other black people The aw Raven Leilani s debut novel is a spectacular examination of loneliness and the wish to belong 23 year old Edie is adrift After making some inappropriate sexual choices, she loses her admin job in the publishing industry and finds herself with nowhere to go until the wife of her married lover takes her in Edie now witnesses their unhappy marriage first hand, and she slowly becomes the only confidante of their adoptive daughter Akila who, until then, hardly knew any other black people The awkward, surreal scenario brings out the alienation of each character There is volatile Eric, the husband and digital archivist, who is twice as old as Edie, drowns his unhappiness and insecurity in alcohol and takes her to an amusement park for their first date there is Rebecca, the wife, who works in a hospital morgue where she archives the stories of dead bodies and who tries to approach her problems logically, but can hardly suppress her rage there is aptly named Akila which means intelligent , the black teenager who has been passed from family to family and who has already registered way too much for her ageboth hypervisible and invisible black and aloneand then of course we have Edie, an orphan haunted by intergenerational trauma who tries to archive and make sense of her life through art She is an aspiring painter trying to capture her impressions on the canvas and in photographs, but there is no one who encourages her to seriously pursue her talent For Edie, art is an archive of herselfI ve made my own hunger into a practice, made everyone who passes through my life subject to a close and inappropriate reading that occasionally finds its way, often insufficently, into paintAnd, apparently, also into this novel What makes this book so special is Edie s narrative voice Leilani lets us experience everything through her main character s eyes, and Edie s perceptions are witty and often hilarious, but the heaviness brought about by experiences of racism, sexism, and loneliness always shines through Both Eric and Rebecca frequently treat her cruelly, turning her into weapon to hurt each other, thus objectifying her and exploiting her trauma There is a constant sadness about Edie, and her willingness to oblige others is born out of a lack of self love, of an exhaustion that grinds her down Edie is depressed and tired of the constant fight to survivethere will always be a part of me that is ready to dieBut there is also a part of Edie that is willing resist She loves Artemisia Gentileschi s painting Judith Slaying Holofernes , in which the 17 year old artist painted herself killing her mentor after he had raped her The way Edie clings to her Captain Planet mug in the family house is indicative for her search to find something she can call her own.It is masterful how Leilani spins a web between these characters and develops dynamics and interactions that always point back to their profound lack of attachment The scenes she depicts are mostly realistic, sometimes absurd and always disturbing In numerous narrative vignettes, we learn about Edie s backstory, and sometimes, the people she encounters open a window into their past by sharing some very telling details with her I was glued to this fascinating, hypnotizing text, its particular tone and unusual vibe Raven Leilani who is also a painter is a daring author with a very recognizable style, and I hope this novel will get nominated for some awards, because she deserves attention Oh And extra points for the scene depicting a job interview at a clown school which reads like a nod to Jesse Ball s Census Giveaway win OH MY FUCKING GOD I love this book Luster is everything Its mean spirited, funny, brutally smart, and sad Raven Leilani s writing reminds me of Gillian Flynn Like Flynn, Leilani s writing is sharp and raw Both women write complex and unlikeable women so well Luster is about Edie a young 23 year old black woman who is lost and lonely She makes terrible life decisions but she s fully aware of it but she just can t seem to stop She meets Eric a middle agef white man,who let Giveaway win OH MY FUCKING GOD I love this book Luster is everything Its mean spirited, funny, brutally smart, and sad Raven Leilani s writing reminds me of Gillian Flynn Like Flynn, Leilani s writing is sharp and raw Both women write complex and unlikeable women so well Luster is about Edie a young 23 year old black woman who is lost and lonely She makes terrible life decisions but she s fully aware of it but she just can t seem to stop She meets Eric a middle agef white man,who let s her know up front that he is married but its an open relationship, his wife Rebecca is has even provided a list of rules for them to follow As our story unfolds Edie gets pulledandinto the marriage and finds herself bonding with the couples adopted daughter Akila who is also black.Luster is so amazing I can t even describe how much I loved this book Its weird and funny and just crazy This book just hit my sweet spot and I could not put it down Read this book when it comes out people Its a must read Sometimes I have wished I could step inside the pages of a book and become for a time a character in the story It would be fun and exciting to live in the world inhabited by these characters However, in the book, Luster, I would never want to be a single one of these characters They were all lost in the quagmire of their lives Hurt, unsure, depressed, and morose might be apt adjectives for the four characters Yet, while this was a sad, pessimistic story, it was one that quickly became fasci Sometimes I have wished I could step inside the pages of a book and become for a time a character in the story It would be fun and exciting to live in the world inhabited by these characters However, in the book, Luster, I would never want to be a single one of these characters They were all lost in the quagmire of their lives Hurt, unsure, depressed, and morose might be apt adjectives for the four characters Yet, while this was a sad, pessimistic story, it was one that quickly became fascinating as it was well written and enticed the reader to enter this dispirited world the characters found themselves in.Edie, poor Edie, a young black woman, thinks of herself as a sexual object only seeming to derive pleasure from the act and never really seeing herself as an emerging gifted artist She arrives at a point in her life where she is living with the married man, Erik, she has sex with, his wife, a medical examiner, and their adopted black daughter They seem almost like mirages as they drift in and out of happenings, colorless, and cast into a sea of crestfallen lives There seems to be no sense in lives that seem senseless, and yet Edie strives to be a number of things, an artist, a guide to Akila, and someone struggling to overcome sexual and racial s in a time of fluctuating concepts and ideas.This is not a happy book, one where everything comes up smelling like roses in the end However, it is a book filled with questions and the knowledge of how to find your way in this world we are living in What rules do we follow when there seems to be no rules Or is our life a painting or a photograph captured of us that makes us become real in the eyes of ourselves and the world Thank you to Raven Leilani, Farrar, Straus and Giroux , and NetGalley for a copy of this new author s book due out August 4, 2020 This would be excellent book for a book club discussion