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Such a Fun Age

by Kiley Reid

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,2601744,131 (3.8)1 / 157
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," the complicated reality of being a grown up, and the consequences of doing the right thing for the wrong reason.… (more)
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» See also 157 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 174 (next | show all)
This book moves quickly and yet it’s characters develop slowly. Revealing themselves layer by layer. Ultimately both the “woke” white characters end up revealing their true selves leaving the African American character with nothing and isn’t that just the sad reality/allegory for today’s America. A very smart and clever exploration of white privilege in today’s society. ( )
  jenkies720 | Jun 7, 2024 |
Loved it! ( )
  kdegour23 | May 29, 2024 |
Light. Not for me although it flows right along.
  featherbooks | May 7, 2024 |
I don't know why but I couldn't put this book down. It was compulsive. Kiley Reid's writing here was so good it felt effortless. She's asking questions about what it means to be a paid member of someone else's family, about how (if you're white) to be an ally (and how much of an obligation is imposed on BIPOC by people trying to be allies) and, fundamentally, how possible is it for even the most "woke" person to really get it?

As a title, Such a Fun Age feels very playful. Is Reid talking about the supposedly carefree years of our twenties, when we move from education into the workforce but we're not yet weighed down by the burdens of child-rearing, mortgages and aging parents? This is where the chief protagonist finds herself. Boomers, Lost Gens, Gen-Xers and millennials all seem to view this period in one's life as The Most Fun We Ever Had. But talk to many twenty-somethings in 2020 and you get a totally different perspective. The reality of exponentially-increasing inequality means that life is much harder for a 25-year-old today than it has been in decades. So is this what the title is meant to get us thinking about?

The other possibility is that the "fun age" refers to precocious toddler Briar, blonde, fluffy-headed, asker-of-constant-questions chatterbox adored by her black babysitter. Emira's "favorite little human." But possibly not the favorite child in her own family, especially not when baby Catherine is an exact replica of her mother and is "such an easy baby." Neither Briar, with her "raspy voice" and frequently awkward observations, nor Emira, who is struggling to find a path in life, are full of fun, but they do find a lot of fun with and in each other and that was the most fun part for this reader.

( )
  punkinmuffin | Apr 30, 2024 |
Highly enjoyable. I'm a bit surprised this was long-listed for the Booker, since it's not what I consider a literary achievement. But as an engaging, contemporary read, you can't go wrong. Painfully accurate characters and those tiny moments of self-doubt and failed human interaction that torment anyone with a brain. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the character of Briar; how many three-year-olds emerge from a novel with a fully-rounded personality and most of the best lines? ( )
  therebelprince | Apr 21, 2024 |
Showing 1-5 of 174 (next | show all)
...as protests against police violence and institutional racism take place all over the world, ignited by the murders of Black Americans including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, the relevance of this book cannot be overstated. Reid has constructed a complex tale of twenty-first-century millennial life that scrutinizes racism in America today....Reid’s straightforward prose and sharp eye for social satire allow her to demonstrate clearly how race and privilege are inseparable from the way we structure our sense of self and our relationships with others. Such a Fun Age deserves a place on every reading list this summer.
 
It’s 2015 and, in a gentrified variation on “driving while black,” 20-something Emira is accosted in the freezer aisle of an upscale Philadelphia supermarket by a security guard accusing her of kidnapping her white charge....Emira is clearly the victim of racially motivated manipulation, but the two white people who profess to care for her shift uncomfortably between the poles of villain and hero. Both boss and boyfriend engage in distinct brands of white posturing, defining themselves in part by their relationships to this young woman — an adoring, vocationally lost black woman who must decide whether the benefits of those relationships are outweighed by the cost to her sense of self. Out of Reid’s often cloying vernacular, then, emerge some surprisingly resonant insights into the casual racism in everyday life, especially in the America of the liberal elite.
added by Lemeritus | editNew York Times, Lauren Christensen (pay site) (Dec 31, 2019)
 
The title of Kiley Reid's debut, Such a Fun Age, works on so many levels it makes me giddy — and, what's better, the title's plurality of meaning is echoed all over the place within the novel, where both plot and dialogue are layered with history, prejudice, expectations, and assumptions.... More broadly, the "fun age" might be our own, prior to the 2016 election — an age that was considered by some to be magically post-racist and post-sexist because it was impolite to be these things in public; an age of performative white feminism; an age of social media and virality and armchair activism and online virtue-signaling that ironically requires certain people — often, those already more vulnerable — to exist in specific politically correct ways while letting others — usually, those with power and privilege — off the hook....This is a book that will read, I suspect, quite differently to various audiences — funny to some, deeply uncomfortable and shamefully recognizable to others — but whatever the experience, I urge you to read Such a Fun Age. Let its empathic approach to even the ickiest characters stir you, allow yourself to share Emira's millennial anxieties about adulting, take joy in the innocence of Briar's still-unmarred personhood, and rejoice that Kiley Reid is only just getting started.
added by Lemeritus | editNPR, Ilana Masad (Dec 28, 2019)
 
The relationship between a privileged White mom and her Black babysitter is strained by race-related complications.... Charming, challenging, and so interesting you can hardly put it down.
added by Lemeritus | editKirkus Reviews (Oct 13, 2019)
 
In her debut, Reid crafts a nuanced portrait of a young black woman struggling to define herself apart from the white people in her life who are all too ready to speak and act on her behalf....Reid excels at depicting subtle variations and manifestations of self-doubt, and astutely illustrates how, when coupled with unrecognized white privilege, this emotional and professional insecurity can result in unintended—as well as willfully unseen—consequences. This is an impressive, memorable first outing.
added by Lemeritus | editPublisher's Weekly (Aug 14, 2019)
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Reid, Kileyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lewis, NicoleNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"We definitely wait for birthdays. Or even ice cream. Like [my daughter] has to earn it. Yesterday we promised her an ice cream, but then she behaved horribly. And I said, 'Then I'm sorry, ice cream is for girls who behave. And that's not you today. Maybe tomorrow.'"

---RACHEL SHERMAN,
Uneasy Street: The Anxieties of Affluence
Dedication
For Patricia Adeline Olivier
First words
That night, when Mrs. Chamberlain called, Emira could only piece together the words "... take Briar somewhere ..." and "... pay you double."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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," the complicated reality of being a grown up, and the consequences of doing the right thing for the wrong reason.

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