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Such a Fun Age: A Novel by Kiley Reid
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Such a Fun Age: A Novel (2019)

by Kiley Reid

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16913110,506 (4.05)2
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. 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.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
This debut novel has a lot to say about friendship, race, family and careers as well as learning to mind your own business. When Emira, a black graduate of Temple University can’t seem to find a goal for her future, she takes a job as a nanny for a wealthy couple. Carrying for the three-year old, Briar, who’s mom, Alix, is so busy with her own career and the baby sister, Emira falls in love with the chatty young girl. When confronted by a security guard in an upscale market, Emira stands up for herself when the guard accuses her of kidnapping Briar. The video taken by a white guy who later becomes her boyfriend is supposed to be deleted but becomes crucial in the ending of the book. When Emira’s boyfriend, Kelley and her boss, Alix, discover they had a bad love relationship in high school, both Kelley and Alix try to convince Emira how despicable the other is. I found the ending of this novel very satisfying. ( )
  brangwinn | Jan 14, 2020 |
The Short of It:

A slow build but once I got into it it was like a time bomb ready to go off.

The Rest of It:

For once, I read a buzzy book when everyone else was reading it too. Such a Fun Age is making the rounds and getting a lot of praise. It was selected for Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club and although I’ve not read all of her selections, the ones I have read have been really good. This was no exception.

Emira is at a club celebrating with her friends when her boss calls her to ask if she can possibly watch her daughter due to an emergency. One, it’s late. Two, she’s dressed for the club. Three, she’s been drinking. Although she explains this to her boss, the desperation on the other line wins out.

Minutes later, Emira finds herself with three-year-old Briar in an upscale supermarket checking out the nuts, dancing in the aisle, doing whatever it takes to keep the kid occupied while her mother, Alix, tends to her emergency. Just minutes into their visit, they begin to draw the attention of other shoppers. Emira, a young black woman, and Briar, a young white child, wandering the aisles so late at night seems out of place. So much so, that a security guard begins to question her. Emira explains that she is Briar’s babysitter, which is the truth but she knows how it looks. Things escalate. That is where the story begins.

This is one of those slow-build books. Conflict is everywhere but you know something big is coming and as the story plays out, the one word that comes to mind is EXPLOSIVE. This is a book about race but also fetishsizing race, which I thought was interesting.

Two things stood out for me. One, the story is a little gritty. Not overworked or polished which I liked very much. The author did a good job of portraying each character’s POV. None of these characters are perfect and you won’t find yourself siding with any of them. They all play a role in how the rabbit falls down the hole. Two, the portrayal of Briar, the young child seemed a little off. She’s critical to the story but her observations were often not believable to me and they took me out of the narrative at times.

However, there is a lot to think about here and you will find yourself eagerly flipping those pages towards the end because it’s like a train wreck and you can’t possibly look away. I wouldn’t say it was a perfect story but I don’t think it was meant to be.

For more reviews, visit my blog: Book Chatter. ( )
  tibobi | Jan 10, 2020 |
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 (4.5 stars)

This book was such a great debut novel! Kiley Reid takes you exactly where she wants you to go, with her excellent storytelling. At different points in the book I found myself rooting for different characters, Emira and the Alix and then Emira again. She’s does a great job of letting you into the two main characters’ heads and describing the tough times after graduating college and being a first time working mom. ( )
  mrsgrits | Jan 6, 2020 |
A fast and compulsively readable story about race, privilege, and respecting personal boundaries. I don’t have the right perspective to say how accurately the topic of white saviourism was portrayed and social media as a career is beyond my comprehension so I probably missed a lot in this book. But having one particular ‘most embarrassing moment’ come roaring back to life and seeing how the two versions of it played out (which was the truth?) added enough suspense to hold my interest through to the reveal. ( )
  wandaly | Jan 4, 2020 |
Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid has been on my schedule for months, and I thought that, as such, it deserved to be my first read of 2020. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite what I was hoping for, but it had its moments.

Having graduated college with no clear idea of what she wants to do with her life, twenty-five year old Emira Tucker has since taken on a series of part time jobs, her favourite of which is babysitting Briar Chamberlain. Briar is a precocious three year old, and a little too tiring for her career focused mother, Alix, to handle while trying to build her ‘brand’ and also care for a newborn. Alix, and her husband, TV anchorman Peter, are vaguely grateful for the care Emira provides, and both are horrified when late one night they call on Emira for help and the young woman is detained by an over-reaching security guard at a local store who believes she may have kidnapped Briar, not only because Emira is dressed for the party she was attending when the Chamberlain’s called, but because Emira is black, and Briar is white.

While underscoring the major themes of race, class, and privilege, this incident is not actually the focus of the novel, but it is a catalyst for change in the relationship between Alix and Emira. Feeling vaguely guilty about the incident, and worried that Emira will leave their employ, Alix becomes fixated on befriending her. Emira would prefer to forget the whole thing, she has other things on her mind, like her lack of career, and a new beau, Kelley Copeland, whom she met the night of the confrontation in the store.

While low key conflict related to race and class simmers in the background, Reid doesn’t pit the white and black/ rich and poor characters against each other, instead she thoughtfully explores the varying experiences, understandings, and motives that affect their viewpoints about themselves and each other. As the story unfolds from the perspectives of the two women, Reid also examines additional themes such as identity, motherhood, friendship, and career.

Not being American I can’t pretend to understand the cultural dynamics which underpin Such A Fun Age, but I did find it well written, nuanced and thought provoking. ( )
  shelleyraec | Jan 3, 2020 |
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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
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For Patricia Adeline Olivier
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That night, when Mrs. Chamberlain called, Emira could only piece together the words "... take Briar somewhere ..." and "... pay you double."
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