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 (from the Book Blurb)
A great debut book that explores such difficult questions as race, class, privilege, and human relationships with unusual sensitivity and subtlety.
Emira Tucker, a 25year old babysitter for a white family, gets a call at ten in the evening. There is an emergency situation in the Chamberlain household and Alix, the mother, would like Emira to take three year old Briar shopping to keep her away from home while the parents are interviewd by the police. A security guard at the grocery store sees a young black woman (dressed for her best friend’s birthday party, not for babysitting) with a white toddler and gets suspicious. Other shoppers seem to take sides and one of them even films the whole scene. Emira calls Peter Chamberlain who promptly arrives and sorts the situation. Kelley Copeland, the bystander who made the video, urges Emira to keep it in case she decides to sue the guard or the store. Emira would like to forget this humiliating experience, but there is something she doesn’t know about Alix Chamberlain, her employer. Alix is a woman who writes letters to companies and institutions to get what she wants. She even started her own movement #LetHerSpeak and teaches women to become confident and demand things they want. Alix isn’t going to forget the store incident, she is going to stand by Emira and ‘make it right’ the way she understands it. There is something else Emira doesn’t know about Alix and that is that she used to date Kelley in her senior year of high school, and that their relationship ended in a series of embarrassing events for Alix.
The book is well-written and easy to read. I found it impossible to put down, as I kept thinking about the strange ways in which the lives of the protagonists were interconnected. The story is multi-layered, complex and thought-provoking without being heavy-handed or preachey. The characters are well-developed. I really liked the addition of their inner thoughts and the contrast between what they thought and what they chose to say or not to say. Call me lazy, as in real life we do not get the benefit or drawback of this information. Emira was the character I liked the most in all her ‘undecidedness’ or honest desire to hold on and explore life with its endless opportunities. Emira’s relationship with Briar is touching and revealing of what a deep and loyal person she is.
I will definitely be looking forward to reading more books written by Kiley Reid as this was one of the most remarkable debut novels I have read this year.
Thank you to Edelweiss and G.P.Putnam’s sons for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.
- Have you read Such a Fun Age or is it on your tbr? If yes, what did you think?