[Review] Luster

Author: Raven Leilani
Sourced: Snagged the e-book at my local library
Meows: 4.02 out of 5. While I didn’t fully love the story itself, the writing and capture of a moment in time was honestly so beautiful.


Edie is a 20-something, Black woman living in New York. She meets Eric, an older white man living in New Jersey. He’s married, but in an open relationship with his wife Rebecca. Luster is a snapshot of a moment in time, capturing the tangled lives of Edie, Rebecca, Eric, and their adopted daughter Akila who is also Black. Edie playing role model to Akila, Edie forming a tolerable cohabitation with Rebecca, Edie playing sexual partner to Eric, and Edie trying to find her path as an artist — all play into the plot of Luster.


“He is the most obvious thing that has ever happened to me, and all around the city it is happening to other silly, half-formed women excited by men who’ve simply met the prerequisite of living a little more life, a terribly unspecial thing that is just what happens when you keep on getting up and brushing your teeth and going to work and ignoring the whisper that comes to you at night and tells you it would be easier to be dead.”
Chapter 8

“And when I am alone with myself, this is what I am waiting for someone to do to me, with merciless, deliberate hands, to put me down onto the canvas so that when I’m gone, there will be a record, proof that I was here.”
Chapter 8


I honestly had to think about this one for a while. I read mixed reviews and reactions before, during, and after; still, I was left with a lukewarm feeling on my rating, meaning it didn’t feel accurate of the reader experience. Luster is most certainly not a book that everyone will love. In fact, I only think you’ll like this book if you can appreciate stories that should and need to be told, but don’t leave you with any sort of obvious takeaway/lesson. I clumsily liken the experience to reading a Jane Austen novel because Leilani’s descriptive storytelling brought back all the feels of reading a book with extraordinary detail and small, minuscule plot movements for 95% of the book.

So is it a book to keep forever on your shelf? For me, the toe beans value is 2 out of 10; a good read, but probably not one that I would keep and re-read (though, it could be argued that the descriptive writing is a reason to keep and re-read it!). I do really encourage you to read it, savor the detail, live in the drifting moments of Edie’s life, and appreciate the story. I think Leilani’s writing is top notch and I’d be excited to read anything else she publishes, but I wouldn’t say that I found myself engrossed or burning through pages. Do you see why I had trouble rating it?

Have you read Luster? What did you think?

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