Title: Such a Fun Age
Author: Kiley Reid
Publication Date: Jan 7, 2020
Genre: Adult Contemporary
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. So 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.
With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone “family,” the complicated reality of being a grown up, and the consequences of doing the right thing for the wrong reason.
Such a Fun Age maintains a perfect balance between fun, compelling, and uncomfortable as you jump into a novel with real and flawed characters.
This story takes place in today’s world of influencers, imposter syndrome, and the question of “how on earth do we deal with the subject of race!?” Alternating between Emira and Alix’s POV, you really get to see how mindset, motivation, and personality really influence someone’s actions and how it’s received by others.
It’s interesting to see not only Alix’s perspective of a situation, but how her actions and insecurities lead to her end of sorts. And I was also surprised how the author wrote Alix’s friend group and the dynamic of it. Such a Fun Age examines the subject of race, class, and privilege from so many different angles that it really paints a diverse picture of how social pressures and media can impact one’s actions and decision-making processes.
I was also pleasantly surprised by how aspects of Emira’s life were presented. Emira is introduced as someone with insecurities and a general lack of direction that I know many millennials face after university. While the rest of her friends seem to have their lives together, Emira remains unsure of what to do with her life. Her scenes with Briar always stole my heart and I loved those scenes the most from the book.
Speaking of Briar – it’s amazing how every secondary character had a moment to shine and you got to see a bit of how they came into their biases and some of their character flaws/quirks that affected how they walked through life. Such a Fun Age has such a fantastically developed cast of characters. And knowing their motivations almost made everything worse because I was able to understand why they were doing/saying what they were. It made me uncomfortable because I knew it was wrong, but also because the trajectory of their story made their actions make sense.
Such a Fun Age is such a relevant read for today’s world, and delivers the message that no matter who you are your biases and experiences will affect how you approach a situation and the actions you take. Is there a remedy for that? I don’t know. This book doesn’t really present a solution so much as it presents us with the problem brief. I’m sure Reid has a lot more up her sleeve in terms of this subject and more. This is such a phenomenonal and important debut book from her and I’m excited to see what she has for us next!
World Building: 4.5/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.06/5
ARC obtained via Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review