Some readers might be tired of 20-somethings in crisis in New York, who have been the subject of countless novels, TV shows and films. But debut author Raven Leilani makes her iteration of the trope fresh for so many reasons: her bracing writing style with unintuitive, sardonic turns of phrase; the uniqueness of her protagonist, a Black 23-year-old woman named Edie, who is obsessed with sex and death; and the unflinching way in which she tackles race, gender, relationships, trauma, pop culture and more. It’s hard to read about the many mistakes Edie makes through Luster—which primarily centers around her moving into the family home of her lover, his wife and their child—but thanks to Leilani’s talent, it’s harder still to turn away.
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