Prompt: A DNF book from your TBR pile
I’ve had Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid since the beginning of last year. I started reading it the day it arrived, put it down and somehow never picked it back up. So it made the perfect book for this prompt.
What it’s about?
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.
What I think:
This book was not what I thought it would be. It was actually more subtle and more interesting.
The characters of Alix and Emira are both finely drawn to create to very different women whose lived experience of America is extremely different.
Exploring themes race, class, education and privilege, this is about every day life and social biases.
Alix is white, rich and privileged. While she is aware of her position, her efforts to appear ‘woke’ and inclusive feel forced. She prides herself on the diversity of her social group and Thanksgiving guests at her table. And yet she still employs a young, black childminder who wears a uniform.
Alix is also struggling herself. Having gained baby weight and moved from New York to Philadelphia. Her social media perfect image is under threat as she is struggling to maintain her perfect image.
Emira is such a great character. College educated but lost. At 25, she is working part-time jobs and baby-sitting. Her relationship with Brior is probably the most genuine emotional connection in the book.
The relationships in the book are complex. Alix’s efforts to develop a friendship after the police incident are desperate and shallow.
Throughout the book the issues around race are also multi-faceted. Emira resists suggestions that the video is shared as she does not want that ine incident to define her. Her relationship with a white man and reactions to it show a scale of responses from both sides, all of which are allowed to be felt and valid.
There was a realism about this book that is subtle and carefully crafted and will resonate with a lot of readers. And this characters have stayed with long after I’ve finished reading.