This book is not for the faint of literary heart! Author Raven Leilani has a profoundly unique way of phrasing a thought and while in lots of instances I got lost in the compound descriptive phrasing, I felt like I was being invited to observe an emotional turbulence that at one and the same time took my breath away and yet made me laugh out loud!

I consider myself a reasonably intelligent human being with a passion for a literary style that makes me sit in awe at the author’s use of the English language. But in Luster, I often felt I was hanging on by a thread. That is in no way meant as a criticism but rather a way to honour this author’s incredible talent and intellectual process.

The story at its basest level is about Edie, an at-sea 23 year old woman who is struggling to find her way through her complexly layered past into a future unknown, who meets Eric, an older ‘open-marriage’ man who is willing to dabble with her for his own selfish need and amusement.

The evolution of this relationship spills over into Eric’s family home and his wife’s treatment of Edie becomes an opera watched by an audience member who doesn’t understand the language or the outline of the story. And yet, the reader is taken through the roller coaster ride of the “arrangement” and is left wondering what is transpiring while at the same time hoping that something good can come out of this bizarre relationship that will leave Edie more steady on her feet.

Luster is Raven Leilani’s first novel and my expectation is that it will not be her last.

— Nancy C.