Edie is just trying to survive. She’s messing up in her dead-end admin job in her all white office, is sleeping with all the wrong men, and has failed at the only thing that meant anything to her, painting. No one seems to care that she doesn’t really know what she’s doing with her life beyond looking for her next hook-up. And then she meets Eric, a white, middle-aged archivist with a suburban family, including a wife who has sort-of-agreed to an open marriage and an adopted black daughter who doesn’t have a single person in her life who can show her how to do her hair. As if navigating the constantly shifting landscape of sexual and racial politics as a young, black woman wasn’t already hard enough, with nowhere else left to go, Edie finds herself falling headfirst into Eric’s home and family.
I'm not really sure where to start with this book...I feel I could give a very long review or a very short one so I guess we'll see how the rambling goes and what we end up with!
Similar to Three Women, I thought the writing was excellent and I flew through it, but I found the whole thing uncomfortably addictive.
The narrative is very good as you really feel like you are in Edie's mind and hearing her thoughts. There are certain sentences that are nearly half a page long, which makes it a little hard to follow at times but when you are in the flow of the story, this is actually very well done as you can truly feel the rush, the panic, the adrenaline and the overwhelming emotions that Edie experiences. I thought that was super clever and it really gave the story an extra level of depth.
I can also appreciate how this story addresses some big topics and I really like that this is becoming more and more common in literature. Luster addresses racism, toxic relationships, not enjoying your job, low self esteem and much more. These are things that so many people experience every day and it is important to highlight that this is something that needs to be addresses and spoken about more.
So yeah, I can appreciate the excellent writing and how strong a debut this is but I wouldn’t exactly say I enjoyed it to be honest...I found the characters super unapproachable and really didn't connect with any of them. Edie and Rebecca were just super frustrating and I found I disliked them more and more as the story developed. And I know that is likely how we were meant to feel about Rebecca and there were times I really felt for Edie but overall, I just found them really frustrating.
And then the story itself just gets super bizarre and I had a lot of 'What the F*ck' moments as I genuinely didn't know how to react to certain parts. But therein lies the counter argument that this is why the book has received so many amazing reviews. It is raw, it is gritty, it is real, it is unapologetic and it is super uncomfortable. Maybe at another time, I could appreciate these things more but when I read it I just found the whole thing made me skin crawl.
In short, excellent writing, important topics, long chapters, frustrating characters and weird ending. I tend to rate books out of 10 (5 for writing and narrative) and 5 for the story itself, so I give this a 4 for the first part and a 2 for the latter. This doesn't mean you shouldn't read it, I never discourage people from reading books as stories and books are super subjective. I flew through it so if you are looking for challenging read, then this might be exactly what you need.
IN 3 WORDS/PHRASES:
'I think of all the gods I have made out of feeble men.'
None...I really didn't like any of the characters...