SUCH A FUN AGE by Kiley Reid

From the Jacket

Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living showing other women how to do the same.  A mother to two small girls, she started out as a blogger and has quickly built herself into a confidence-driven brand. S o she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler one night.  Seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, a security guard at their local high-end supermarket accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar.  A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make it right.  But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix’s desire to help.  At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life.  When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.

My Thoughts

Behold!  This is one of those rare times when I actually get to read a book everyone is talking about while they’re still talking about it!  A very exciting moment, indeed.

It comes as no surprise that SUCH A FUN AGE was chosen for Reese’s book club–it’s a quick read that provides plenty to talk about.  I’ll admit I was hoping for something deeper and more insightful, as the characters’ dilemmas seem rather juvenile throughout the book; the plot revolves around a dramatic high school break-up.  The first scene of the novel, in which babysitter Emira is accused of kidnapping the white child she nannies while at a suburban supermarket, just kind of happens and is quickly over and done with.  I was under the impression it would be the major event in the novel so I was surprised (and disappointed) when it wasn’t.  Instead, Reid launches us into a story of high school grudges.  Given that I am not one to dawdle in the past of hold a grudge, it was all quite weird to me.

“One day, when Emira would say good-bye to Briar, she’d also leave the joy of having somewhere to be, the satisfaction of understanding the rules, the comfort of knowing what’s coming next, and the privilege of finding a home within yourself.”

SUCH A FUN AGE reminds me of so many different books; I can almost see Reid asking herself what kind of writer she wants to be and then pulling inspiration from books she has enjoyed.  For one, the main character Emira reminded me so strongly of Ifemelu from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel AMERICANAH, maybe because of the similar setting, similar relationship with a white guy, or perhaps because of Reid’s narrative voice.  I also see some parallels with Celeste Ng’s LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE, another Reese pick, in that it centers on wealthy suburban drama while featuring a hint of social commentary on race, class, etc.  For me, it was quite obvious SUCH A FUN AGE is a piece of M.F.A. writing, which is something I always thought snobby highbrow readers said, but here it’s unavoidably true (and not necessarily a bad thing, just something worth noting!).

Though Kiley Reid’s SUCH A FUN AGE ended up being a bit different from what I was expecting, I really enjoyed my time reading this novel.  It’s a quick, juicy read that kept me turning pages well into the night.  With SUCH A FUN AGE, Reid has introduced herself as a strong novelist; she is certainly one to look out for.

Further Reading

“‘Such a Fun Age’ Satirizes the White Pursuit of Wokeness” by Stephanie Hayes, The Atlantic
“When It Comes to Race, How Progressive are the Progressives?” by Lauren Christensen, The New York Times

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