Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “How to Be Luminous” as Want to Read:
How to Be Luminous
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

How to Be Luminous

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  241 ratings  ·  56 reviews
When seventeen-year-old Minnie Sloe's mother disappears, so does her ability to see color. How can young artist Minnie create when all she sees is black-and-white?

Middle child Minnie and her two sisters have always been able to get through anything together: growing up without fathers, living the eccentric artist lifestyle, and riding out their mother's mental highs and l
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published April 30th 2019 by Roaring Brook Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about How to Be Luminous, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about How to Be Luminous

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  241 ratings  ·  56 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of How to Be Luminous
Jay G
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Want to see more bookish things from me? Check out my youtube channel:

*I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for my honest review*

Minnie and her two sisters have always been eccentric, taking after their artistic mother. When their mother goes missing, each sister copes in their own way. Minnie finds herself struggling with the loss of her colours, seeing the world in monochrome. She doesn't know how she will be able to be an artist
Feb 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019
Still mulling over my full thoughts on this story. In some respects, it really was quite interesting — especially as a story about grief and anger over the loss of someone beloved.
Samantha (WLABB)
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
All the color disappeared from her world along with her mother. While trying to remedy the situation, Minnie worries that she might have inherited more than her mother's artistic ability.

My love for grief and loss books was really satisfied by How to Be Luminous. This book was beautiful, heartbreaking, and poignant. Hapgood's exploration of grief was well executed, and she did a beautiful job capturing the different ways people deal with great losses.

The story was told from the point of view of
PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps
When Minnie’s mother disappears, presumed to have committed suicide, she loses her ability to see color and becomes concerned she too is mentally ill.

I never connected with HOW TO BE LUMINOUS, though I’m sure Harriet Reuter Hapgood’s latest novel will find an enthusiastic audience. Hapgood’s lyrical prose and creative storytelling are the best parts of HOW TO BE LUMINOUS. I also enjoyed how the sisters processed their mother’s death/disappearance differently. Niko, the eldest sister, was deaf, a
Chris C
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a really beautifully told story about coping with loss and mental health and how that affects not only yourself but the people around you.

For so long during this book I was thinking "I just can't support this main character (Minnie)" but I realised once I had finished it and viewed her story as a whole that I completely understood her and her actions. She does some reckless, silly, unforgivable things and yet you can't help empathise with someone who is struggling through such a dufficul
Dec 08, 2019 rated it liked it
How To Be Luminous is Harriet Reuter Hapgood’s second book and well, it didn’t quite hit all the notes that The Square Root Of Summer did for me. I was quite excited to read How To Be Luminous. This is the sort of book where I was expecting the writing to be lovely and some interesting imagery as well as to really care about the characters. I did get some of those expectations met, however, this was not 1000% the book for me, and that’s just fine. Read my full review here ...more
Katelyn Attanasio
A mix of Where'd You Go Bernadette and The Bell Jar, I sometimes felt this books didn't know what it wanted to be. Also, other than the age of the main character (17), I'd have a difficult time classifying this as YA, and I don't think I'd recommend it to most teenagers. I also would have liked to have seen more growth from the main character.

I received an advanced reader copy of this title from NetGalley.
Amber Johnson
Apr 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaways
I won this book through a Goodreads Giveaway. The beginning was a little slow for me but once I became invested in the sisters’ story, I couldn’t put it down. The author really portrayed the sisters’ grief well with each of them processing it differently. I felt as though there were a varied amount of characters in the story with flaws and all. I like the way the book ended.
Ryley (Ryley Reads)
After Hapgood's previous novel, The Square Root of Summer, I was really excited to pick up her latest book. While it was well-written, I couldn't help but feel like I've read similar stories and that there wasn't maybe as much originality as I wanted there to be.

This book follows seventeen-year-old Minnie. After the disappearance and presumed death of her famous artist mother four months ago, Minnie has lost all the colour in her life. Instead of vibrant colours, her entire world has turned gray
Annabelle Heath
After really enjoying The Square Root of Summer, I was eager to dive back in to one of Harriet Reuter Hapgood's stories. How to Be Luminous delivers on the same gut-wrenching emotion, paired with a twist of magic realism, made all the more enjoyable because this is a book about creatives and creation, and the light and dark sides that are often present in people we would label creative geniuses.

I love how the central conceit of this book - Minnie's loss of her ability to see colour - is used so
Chelsea Girard
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When seventeen-year-old Minnie Sloe's mother disappears, so does her ability to see color. How can young artist Minnie create when all she sees is black-and-white?

Middle child Minnie and her two sisters have always been able to get through anything together: growing up without fathers, living the eccentric artist lifestyle, and riding out their mother's mental highs and lows. But when they lose their mother, Minnie wonders if she could lose everything: her family, her future, her first love . .
Jill Johnston
Apr 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
Thank you to Net Galley and Roaring Brook Press for a digital copy of this ARC in return for an honest review.

In How to Be Luminous by Harriet Reuter Haphood Minnie and her two sisters, Niko and Emmy-Kate, are suddenly left without their mother. Minnie, the middle sister, finds a suicide note in her mother’s art studio but no sign of her body. Niko has to take over as guardian, Minnie loses all her color, and Emmy-Kate is going out at all hours of the night. Their mother was an artist, as well a
Karen Barber
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Thank you to NetGalley for providing me access to this rather unusual exploration of mental health.
Our narrator, Minnie, is one of three daughters. Their mother, a celebrated artist, has gone missing. Since the day Minnie discovered a note in her mother’s studio she’s carried the burden of thinking her mother committed suicide...and she believes she’s lost colour.
We follow Minnie as she tries to learn to live with the absence of a parent, but also on a journey of self-discovery as she struggles
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I loved this book so much. This book sucked me in enough to forget that I was actually reading a book! I loved the writing so much and the color descriptions in between each chapter. The storyline was amazing, this is definitely one of my new favorite books. I was reading a library copy of this but now after finishing it i want to go and buy my own personal copy of it so i can re-read it whenever!
Jun 04, 2019 rated it liked it

~ I received an ARC of this book on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review~

I should have absolutely loved How To Be Luminous, but I didn't. I liked it, I just didn't love it. In saying that, there were some elements I did love about it, but overall, I just liked it. Yeah, so I'm throwing love and like around a whole lot so let's just get to my actual review before I keep going. 

How To Be Luminous centres around Minnie, the middle Sloe sister and our narrator, as she and her sisters griev
Jan 25, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sandra Porter
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
YA, grief, family dynamics, art, suicide
Minnie, Emily-Kate (younger sister) and Niko (older sister) are dealing with the disappearance of their mother, a internationally known artist. All three are dealing with the loss in different ways, Minnie has lost color, only seeing in black and white. Emily-Kate has taken to wearing Mom's clothes and acting like her Mom. And Niko-who has been named guardian-was turned into a neat freak. The story is written in Minnie's voice, she can only see what this d
May 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
This is a book of both self discovery and grief mixed within. When Minnie discovers a letter about her Mothers "disappears" that points towards suicide she starts to lose the grip on her colourful life and begins to only see the world in black and white.
Could she too be mentally ill or is this a reaction to grief?

Niko and Minnie are the older two with just two years between them making Emmy Kate the youngest at 15. This allows grief to form in different ways, however the girls have solely b
Jun 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 20, 2020 rated it liked it
I really loved the concept of the book, and the mystery kept me reading to the end. I also love how original and clever her metaphors were; I found myself bookmarking a line on almost every page when Minnie would describe something. I also love the representation with having a deaf character, as well as covering heavy subjects like mental illness.

I do think the climax moment was a bit of a let down. I guess in a way the book mirrors life; some things go unanswered, there's not always an epic adv
Lindsay Montague
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was beautiful. From start to finish, I was absolutely mesmerized by the language and prose. I was immediately pulled into this whimsical south London town and into the Sloe household. Our main character, Minnie, is struggling with finding her place in her family of artists after the disappearance of their art famous mother, Rachel Sloe. She's also is hit with one of the worst things that could happen to an artist: she's lost her ability to see color.

While there are a few other characte
Aug 25, 2019 rated it liked it
This was ok. There was nothing specifically
bad about this story and I can see how someone who hasnt read a concept similar to this before would find it pretty amazing and beautiful and compelling. But I had 2 issues with it, firstly, Honestly I was bored for a lot of it. Secondly,Grief is not an excuse to treat people like dirt and it seems to be a theme in YA that the start of the book explains a sad or horrible event and then the main character is almost excused from then on in because "their
I liked this... but I'm still feeling a little uneasy about it.
Minnie was such a complex character, and her situation was so unique, that I feel like I didn't entirely understand the intricacies of her experiences in this book.
There were a few moments that I found problematic: the underage drinking/sex/smoking, the lack of communication, and - most powerfully - the use of the terms 'mad' and 'insane' to describe people with anxiety, bi-polar and other mental illnesses.
Also, I'm really not sure
thewoollygeek (tea, cake, crochet & books)
An emotional read about mental health, the power of self healing from the body and mind. It covers so many major issues, family, loss, grief, suicide as well as the major theme of mental health, a tough emotional read, but well worth it and I think people, especially YA should be encouraged to read this, would be great to see on the National curriculum in schools. Wonderful writing and an important message. A thought provoking and powerful read

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free co
As a daughter of an artist, and as someone who suffers from mental illness; this book brought me to a beautiful place at the end. It's a well told story that makes you ugly cry. Yes, I said ugly cry. And yes you will by the end. But it's the best feeling. It's freeing in a way. And I'm thankful that this book is here. It's well written, thoughtful, emotional and every bit necessary as a song for those of us that have suffering from mental health issues.
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
I read a lot of YA fiction, partially because I enjoy it, partially because I like knowing the perfect book to put into an individual student's hands. I have a lot of ambivalence about this book -- so many things are so well-done. At the same time, I just couldn't get into it. Some of the metaphors seem forced, and it very much straddles the line between YA and "regular" fiction. It might be one of those books that I'm just not at the right place to enjoy; maybe in a few years I'll revisit.
alyssa lee
Aug 13, 2019 rated it liked it
This book was a mixture of a lot of emotions I think because while she was grieving for her mother as she was losing her colors so it was just a mixed book but and it was good although it was slow in the beginning it was a good book even the twist at the end kinda got me when the other guy wrote to be continued I shipped them more than I did to the other boy because I felt as though he understood her more than her boyfriend especially since he went through the same thing as she did as well.
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5 I had high hopes for the book but it fell flat. (I wasn't expecting a 5 star, but still). I understand what the point of the plot was and it kinda came across but it didn't keep me engaged and I just couldn't care about any of them, they all felt a bit unidimensional "their problem is who they are and I'll just throw adjectives and some this is who this person is in to fit the bill". Just confirms I am not really a contemporary book kinda person, not even if it is about art.
Jun 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Love love love the Sloe family, the Deaf representation, the London setting (my heart!).

That said, I think the book would have benefited from further investigation into the frequently cited (and harmful!) idea that to be a "genius" requires one to live with mental illness ignored and untreated. Potential is totally there - I think it'd be interesting to see it realized more.
Oct 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
I really persevered with this one. I pushed through determined to finish it but the story was the kind of YAF that just didn’t feel like it transcended through age brackets.... it struggled to keep my attention. But I kept waiting for it to get good. It felt a bit wishy-washy.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • I Am Not a Number
  • How It Feels to Float
  • Scar (Skin Books, #3)
  • Call It What You Want
  • The Upside Of Being Down
  • How to Build a Heart
  • The Sunday Story Club
  • It Sounded Better in My Head
  • The Map from Here to There (The Start of Me and You, #2)
  • Spin
  • Break the Fall
  • 90 Days of Different
  • Perfectly Preventable Deaths
  • Do You Know Me?
  • Scars Like Wings
  • The Places I've Cried in Public
  • The Undoing of Thistle Tate
  • Bright Burning Stars
See similar books…
Harriet Reuter Hapgood is the author of THE SQUARE ROOT OF SUMMER and HOW TO BE LUMINOUS. Her first-ever professional writing credit was for Just Seventeen magazine, and she's been YA-obsessed ever since. She likes burritos, cats, Gwyneth Paltrow and young adult fiction, which she plans to write more of, though she's also considering a PhD in Dawson’s Creek. Her surname is Reuter Hapgood, not Hapg ...more

News & Interviews

Hispanic Heritage Month is the perfect time to relish the latest works from beloved Hispanic and Latinx authors like Isabel Allende, Natalia...
87 likes · 76 comments