About the Book:
A striking and surprising debut novel from an exhilarating new voice, Such a Fun Age is a page-turning and big-hearted story about race and privilege, set around a young black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both.
Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living, with her confidence-driven brand, showing other women how to do the same. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler one night, walking the aisles of their local high-end supermarket. The store’s security guard, seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, 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 things 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.
With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone “family,” and the complicated reality of being a grown up. It is a searing debut for our times.
“All this was for you!”
“We wanted to help you clear your name and you turn around and do this?…Everything we’ve done was for you. Everything.”
Who is the villain and who is the hero in Kiley Reid’s smart and often painfully funny debut novel? Your thoughts might veer back and forth just as mine did. Is Alix the villain, the smart and pretty writer who escapes her children several times a week for some alone time? While this book is often cringe-worthy, the author does not make judgments about her characters but instead leaves that up to the reader.
Right up front, Alix’s babysitter Emira is accused of a crime while caring for her young charge Briar. It is the fall-out from this late-night incident in a grocery store that makes up the story of the well-intentioned Chamberlin family and their complex relationship with their babysitter. The chapters switch back and forth between the points of view of the main protagonists, which adds a layer of compassion and empathy to what might otherwise be very cliched characters.
The author writes an extremely timely and relevant story about class and privilege. Emira does not want any fame or notoriety from the incident, while at the same time the intertwining storylines of the main protagonists race toward a clever conclusion that I did not see coming. This book is funny, satirical, thrilling and even tender, especially when dealing with Emira’s close bond with the young Briar. Emira knows in her heart that their relationship will not last forever and she is determined to make the best of every minute they have together.
“One day, when Emira would say goodbye 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.”
The plot twist is stunning and I applaud Kiley Reid for this spectacular and witty debut novel. This woman is keenly observant and I cannot wait to see what she tackles next. ‘Such a Fun Age’ teaches the reader some invaluable lessons without ever getting too preachy. I couldn’t help but think while reading this book what a great movie or miniseries it would make!
Messy, poignant and real, this book shows real compassion for each of the characters, even when some of them might be very un-likeable. The author lets the reader draw their own conclusions. This book wowed me and I think it is a must-read!! No matter how compassionate you think you might be, the author shows how racism creeps into our everyday life in very unexpected ways. Don’t miss this very surprising and witty novel.
(ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)