Review: “Looker” by Laura Sims

It was Mrs. H who started calling her the actress, making it sound like she was one of those old Hollywood legends – Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Lauren Bacall.

Looker, Chapter 1 opening

Author: Laura Sims
Publication Date: October 1st 2019
Publisher: Scribner
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Format: Paperback
Find it on: Goodreads

Synopsis

*Vogue ’s “Most Anticipated Books of 2019”
*Entertainment Weekly’s “One of January’s Hottest Reads”
*Literary Hub’s “Most Anticipated Books of 2019”
*Southern Living’s “Best New Books Coming Out Winter 2019”

In this taut, arresting debut, a woman becomes fixated on her neighbor—the actress.

Though the two women live just a few doors apart, a chasm lies between them. The actress, a celebrity with a charmed career, shares a gleaming brownstone with her handsome husband and three adorable children, while the recently separated narrator, unhappily childless and stuck in a dead-end job, lives in a run-down, three-story walk-up with her ex-husband’s cat.

As her fascination grows, the narrator’s hold on reality begins to slip. Before long, she’s collecting cast-off items from the actress’s stoop and fantasizing about sleeping with the actress’s husband. After a disastrous interaction with the actress at the annual block party, what began as an innocent preoccupation turns into a stunning—and irrevocable—unraveling. Immersive and darkly entertaining, Looker is a searing psychological portrait of obsession. 

From Goodreads

Review

Laura Sims’s debut, Looker, is an arresting psychological thriller brimming with covetous envy and unintentionally curated self-destruction. The first person narrator is clearly unstable yet relatable as she grasps at the shreds of her once enjoyable life collapsing around her. It’s depressing. It’s uncomfortable. And it’s well executed for its purpose.

Infertile and recently abandoned by her husband, the narrator whose name is kept from us becomes obsessed with the seemingly perfect life of her actress neighbor. As example, here are her thoughts as she peers through the windows at the actress late one night:

… the quality of her aloneness differs from mine. Hers is fuller: surrounded, swaddled even – an island on whose shores laps a vibrant, busy sea. Her aloneness is temporary; mine is infinite. Mine spreads out from the center like a puddle, muddying everything it touches.

Looker, page 40

Well paced and appropriately proportional in length to the story, this book may be a tidy read but it delivers big on the emotional psychology front. We empathetically witness a full break down of a fellow suffering human being – something any one of us can imagine slipping in to given the right circumstances. The text is tinged with desperation, loneliness, and longing. But given what our narrator has endured who can fault her for clinging to fantasies as means of escape, whether it’s subconscious or intentional? For me this was a great read, heavy on the mental front. It is a bit light on action so if you’re looking for a fast-paced action packed book this isn’t for you. I’d highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers or surveys of the human mind. Leave a handful of minutes to decompress after.

TW: infertility, stalking, animal cruelty

Background cover photo by Sixties Photography on Unsplash

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