Synopsis from Goodreads:
Luster sees a young black woman figuring her way into life as an artist and into love in this darkly comic novel. She meets Eric, a digital archivist with a family in New Jersey, including an autopsist wife who has agreed to an open marriage. In this world of contemporary sexual manners and racial politics, Edie finds herself unemployed and living with Eric. 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.
About: Luster is an African American adult fiction written by Raven Leilani. It was published on 8/4/2020 by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, an imprint of Macmillan Publishers, hardcover, 227 pages. The genres are African American, adult fiction, romance, and contemporary. This book was the author’s debut. According to the publisher’s website, “Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers, established in 1953, is an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. We are committed to publishing books of the highest literary quality for children and teenagers. FSG BYR is known for its award-winning list of fiction, nonfiction, and picture books.” Please see below for more information about the author and publisher.
My Experience: I started reading Luster on 1/14/2021 and finished it on 1/18/2021. This book was different than any books I have read before and I liked it in a way that it opened up my eyes to unplanned things. It touched many areas I’m not used to reading, though in The Arrangement, I have been introduced to sugar daddies/sugar babies. But this book introduced the main character who liked to be pushed and slapped and who liked older men even when she was a teen. She had a rough childhood and it seemed to follow her into adulthood where many of her decisions were questionable. Despite having a job, she struggled to find a comfortable living space without roaches and mice. This story felt like an adventure where life took Edie from one place to the next and from one situation to the next though some events may be extreme for the prudes, but one thing that was a constant in her life was her art. It was interesting reading about her job delivering online orders via an app, especially at the dermatologist’s house.
This book followed Edie, 23, told in the first person point of view. Edie worked at a publishing company and lived in a run down apartment. She’s very open with her sexuality and some people were uncomfortable with it. She met Eric, two decades her senior, on a sugar daddy website. He wanted her to stay out of his private life but she didn’t. One day Edie crossed paths with Eric’s wife again when she’s out working her new job. There’s that mutual agreement that Eric’s family needed her as much as she needed them.
Luster was well written and a fast paced read! I couldn’t believe how much a story could pack in but this story was stuffed full of experiences. Edie got to attend a comic con and lived in the city and the suburbs. She experienced racism and the loss of an unborn baby. There’s that slight part of me that don’t like Edie for the deliberate decisions she made to drink cough syrup or any pills she can find to get high. Eric was a weird sugar daddy with his weird animals texts. I don’t quite understand the relationship between Eric’s wife and Edie and why wouldn’t Edie gift the last painting of Rebecca to Rebecca. If it was an open marriage, it seemed that Rebecca was the faithful one, except for her weird taste in music concerts. I do recommend this read to everyone anyway because it’s a book up for discussion.
Tag lines: fast paced, open marriage, art, African American, comic con,
I rate it 4.5 stars!
About the Author:
Raven Leilani’s work has been published in Granta, The Yale Review, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Conjunctions, The Cut, and New England Review, among other publications. Leilani received her MFA from NYU and was an Axinn Foundation Writer-in-Residence. Luster is her first novel. (Photo and info obtained from Macmillan’s website).