Such A Fun Age is a book that has been popping up a lot on my Bookstagram feed and to be honest, part of me was drawn to it because of the pretty book cover. Luckily I saw that someone was selling it on Facebook Marketplace so I decided to buy it. When I opened the book, I became a little worried when I saw that the original owner had written inside ‘Just okay’. I was prepared for an underwhelming read but was glad to be proven wrong.
Such A Fun Age is such a powerful book. Although I know that this book will be received with mixed feelings, I would still encourage people to read it with an open mind.
*Note that there might be spoilers below so please proceed with caution.
Pub Date: December 31, 2019
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Number of Pages: 313 (paperback)
Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary
Add To Shelf: GOODREADS
Such a Fun Age is a story of two women, a young Black woman named Emira who works as a babysitter for Alix Chamberlain’s eldest daughter. Alix is an upper-middle class white woman who works as a female-empowerment influencer.
The story begins with Emira getting racially profiled in a very white and upper class grocery store, while she is babysitting Briar (a white toddler) and is then accused of kidnapping. There was a heated exchange between Emira and the grocery store security, which was all caught on video. The video was taken by a white male, Kelley Copeland, who then encourages Emira to post the video online. Emira refuses to do this because she’s not trying to be ‘viral’. She just wants to forget that it happened and move on with her life.
“I don’t need you to be mad that it happened. I need you to be mad that it just like… happens.”
Alix feels consumed with guilt of what happened to Emira so she tries to overcompensate for it. But we clearly see Alix’s resolution is very much self-serving. She is just using Emira as a form of self-validation, to affirm her social progressiveness. As the story develops, we see her actions and intentions are all for a performance of progressivism.
Such A Fun Age is a compelling narrative told from the perspective of two flawed and contrasting women, Emira and Alix. I think having the double POVs is vital in terms of truly understanding their characters. This book explores so many complex themes but ultimately I think the most dominant theme is racism. This book is so powerful especially in this time where there’s so much violence and aggression towards Black people and people of colour.
Such A Fun Age created very complex characters so I want to dive in a little bit about them.
Alix is someone who always wants to be the centre of attention or the centre of all her relationships. She is a little egotistic in a way and is obsessed about being seen as a ‘good’ and progressive person even though her actions are ingenuine. One example of this was when she went on stage as a panelist while breastfeeding Briar, basically using her own daughter as a prop to portray white feminism, and to leverage a possibility of a ‘viral’ moment on social media to create a narrative that would suit her brand.
Alix has a friendship crush with Emira and is obsessed about impressing her. In reality, her intentions of befriending Emira stems from the desire to ‘save’ her or be seen as a ‘white saviour’. The scene where Emira’s video was leaked is proof that Alix’s intentions are insincere because she’s just taking advantage of Emira’s unfortunate experience to her own advantage.
“Alex was alone, and the one thing she still had was the freedom to follow the narrative that suited her best.”
Throughout the story, Emira remained calm and level-headed even after the unfortunate experience at the grocery store. She just wants to forget that it happened and move on from her life. Some people might say that she should have done more, or reacted in a certain way but in reality, we (as non-black), will never fully understand the gravity of the situation.
Similar to Alix, Kelley seems to pride himself for his ‘wokeness’ but oftentimes forgetting that he has very different experiences as Emira. Even though he has several Black friends, only dates Black women, etc, this doesn’t necessarily mean that he ‘gets it’.
Such A Fun Age is a brilliant debut novel by Kiley Reid. This is a book that left an impact and impression on me, and is one that truly made me reflect about how race & culture shapes us and divides us.
WOULD I RECOMMEND IT?
Honestly, yes. But I also recognize that this book might not be for everyone. Some might find this uncomfortable and some might find it resonating too close to home. I think this book would be a great pick for a book club. There are a lot of prompts and possible topics for discussion.
The only thing that I didn’t enjoy as much is the writing style. I think it could have been better or less sloppier.
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what to read next
Such A Fun Age reminded me a bit of Little Fires Everywhere. In a way, Alix is similar to Elena Richardson and her white saviour personality. Both characters also seem to get their way of things and will do whatever it takes to get what they want. I was even picturing Reese Witherspoon also portraying Alix Chamberlain.
3 replies on “Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid – Book Review”
What a great review! I have seen this book everywhere but wasn’t sure it would be to my taste.
Now my biggest concern would be the ‘sloppy’ writing.. Is it that bad?
It’s not as bad. I just wish it was more polished! I really like the premise of this book, but I totally understand that it might not be for everyone.
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Got it! It’s disappointing when the writing doesn’t meet the expectation for the book.. it can throw everything off.