Book Review: Looker by Laura Sims

Looker by Laura Sims
My rating:  🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4 stars)
Publisher: Scribner

Well, this was a sad journey into a broken and ever more unstable woman. I'm a fan of the character study and this began as a very compelling read.

At the outset, the unnamed narrator is on the cusp of divorce from her husband after their relationship devolved over years, in part due to their journey through infertility. She's understandably depressed but it's not long before it's clear she has spent too long on her own and nothing good will come of it. The object of her ire is embodied in an actress who lives on her block who seems to effortlessly have all that our narrator "has been denied". Before too long, she's constructing elaborate fantasies and ways to cross the actresses path and strike up a relationship, stealing items from the actresses home and making herself over into various characters the actress has played in movies. Things continue to devolve and she is so wrapped up in her fantasy that by the end, she's not just dangerous, she is completely removed from her own actions. Her break is complete and so too is this harrowing tale.

I thought there was much here that's worth thought and discussion. The financial and emotional toll of infertility on couples, isolation, depression and the outsized objectification and fascination with celebrity. I'm glad I read it and was glad it was no longer, as the inevitability of disaster wore on me a bit. Also, the situation with the cat was inevitable even though I kept hoping it wasn't. This reminded me of Hausfrau with regard to the unreliable narrator and for the story making me feel that if the narrator were dead by the end, it'd likely be for the best.

Summary: In this taut and thrilling debut, an unraveling woman, unhappily childless and recently separated, becomes fixated on her neighbor—the actress. The unnamed narrator can’t help noticing with wry irony that, though she and the actress live just a few doors apart, a chasm of professional success and personal fulfillment lies between them. The actress, a celebrity with her face on the side of every bus, shares a gleaming brownstone with her handsome husband and their three adorable children, while the narrator, working in a dead-end job, lives in a run-down, three-story walk-up with her ex-husband’s cat.
When an interaction with the actress at the annual block party takes a disastrous turn, what began as an innocent preoccupation spirals quickly, and lethally, into a frightening and irretrievable madness. Searing and darkly witty, Looker is enormously entertaining—at once a propulsive Hitchcockian thriller and a fearlessly original portrait of the perils of envy.

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