A book that will make you think, make you revisit the world you inhabit, make you believe that for everyone, there should be a reminder that they are here, they are real, and they are of value.
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 mores 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.
and here’s the author:
Raven’s debut novel, Luster, is forthcoming from FSG August 2020. Her work has been published in Granta, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Narrative, Yale Review, Conjunctions, The Cut, and New England Review, among other publications. She completed her MFA at NYU.