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Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
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Such a Fun Age (original 2019; edition 2019)

by Kiley Reid (Author)

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2952260,620 (4.12)4
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)
Member:GirlWellRead
Title:Such a Fun Age
Authors:Kiley Reid (Author)
Info:G.P. Putnam's Sons (2019), Edition: Reissue, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:Libro.fm, netgalley, reviewed

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

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In his Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance, Clement Price writes “It was a time of black individualism, a time marked by a vast array of characters whose uniqueness challenged the traditional inability of white Americans to differentiate between blacks.” Certainly the “fun” in Such a Fun Age is Reid’s dexterity at playing with this idea. Emira, a 20’s black woman, is her own person. She is just trying to find her feet following graduation from college. She is working temporary jobs as a typist and babysitter for a precocious toddler. Her career focuses are just keeping up with the successes of her family and fast-moving friends while seeking a more permanent job with health benefits. Emira has little interest in what white people think of her. Conversely, the white characters, Alix and Kelley, seem fixated on Emira’s race. Each has their own way of objectifying her and neither sees her realistically.

The story turns on an incident of racial profiling that seems all to prevalent in contemporary America. Emira is accosted by a rent-a-cop in an upscale grocery store while babysitting for Alix’s daughter, Briar. After all, a young black woman with a white child in a trendy store can’t be up to anything good—right? Like all such incidents, the altercation is recorded by a passerby on his phone. In this instance the phone belongs to Kelley Copeland, a guy who will later enter an amorous relationship with Emira. To her credit, Reid doesn’t just dwell on racial profiling in her novel. Instead, she deftly explores multiple contemporary themes, like implicit racial bias, social media, class, friendship, and motherhood.

In lieu of preaching, Ried gently satirizes the wokeness that seems prevalent in contemporary America. Alix is a striver whose career success seems to rest on the thinnest of threads. She is totally self-involved yet sees herself as racially enlightened. Following the racial profiling incident, she begins to fixate on getting to know Emira and showing her just how woke she really is. Kelley Copeland is likewise lacking in self-awareness. Most of his friends are black and he thinks this qualifies him to tell Emira how to lead her life. He talks at her but doesn’t listen much. Ried gives Alix and Kelley a most improbable past connection that leaves each convinced the other is a racist. This leaves each with conflicting views about what is best for Emira.

Ried’s most engaging narrative twists and turns around the profiling video, an embarrassing Thanksgiving dinner, high school hijinks, failings in child rearing and lots more. Ultimately, she holds a mirror up to our faces to gently demonstrate some of the subtleties of contemporary American racism. ( )
  ozzer | Feb 14, 2020 |
Such an amazing book exploring current racial issues, domestic help, parenting,social media new money, working and of course relationships. Loved the little girl and the main character but the supporting cast was also fantastic. ( )
  shazjhb | Feb 7, 2020 |
A copy of this book was given by in exchange for review. All opinions stated are my own.“It’s very late for someone this small,” he said. “Is this your child?”
“No.” Emira laughed. “I’m her babysitter.”
“Alright, well . . .” he said, “with all due respect, you don’t look like you’ve been babysitting tonight.”
 
When a supermarket customer and security guard see a young black woman out late with a white child, they assume the worst. By the time the child’s father shows up to verify that she his indeed his babysitter, the damage has been done. Alix Chamberlin is a woman who knows how to get what she wants – and she is building an empire teaching other women to do the same. After her babysitter, Emira Tucker, deals with the humiliating racist confrontation at the store, Alix resolves to make it up to her.
But that day at the store introduces a surprising new development that will thrust Alix’s own past humiliating past up to the present, to complicate her relationship with Emira.
Its most important to note that while fiction, this story is completely own voices, as author Kiley Reid writes from experience and social observation. Having babysat for a family long-term, and witnessed the Black Lives Matter movement in person, Reid perfectly depicts a realistic story with (my absolute favourite thing in contemporary novels) flawed characters who really make us question intentions and consider the white savior complex.

I had to heavily edit this review, because I went on such a deep dive that I was giving up too much that could be consider spoiler – like, so please reach out if you want to discuss this because I have so much to say!
Alix Chamberlin was an interesting character. I think Reid did a good job of displaying how Alix truly wrote her own destiny, controlled her own narrative. A motivated, female empowerment blogger, she knows exactly how to put the right foot forward and she’s been building a successful empire ever since. To many, including herself, she is quite the role model and a great source of #girlpower in learning how to raise your voice and ask for things yourself.
However, she takes this too far in regards to Emira.
Emira is 25, and very much feeling lost. Her income is made up of her part time babysitting for Alix, and a temp copywrite job every other day. Emira compares herself to what she think she should be doing or achieving at this age, and as her friends start achieving their career and relationship goals, Emira can’t help but feel discouraged, though she doesn’t do much to change her circumstances. She adores 2 year old Briar Chamberlin, and as sweet as I found this relationship I think Emira uses this too much as an excuse to not do more for herself.
Its this dynamic and the incident at the store that inspire Alix to “help” Emira – though too much of her help is coming from embarrassment and ‘making up’ for the situation, rather than helping Emira help herself. This is where the white savior complex theme comes out in full force.
I really didn’t anticipate where the ending was going, and I was so impressed with how everything came together in such a strong and empowering ending. Reid really shone a light on the intentions and actions of her characters, and let them shine in their imperfect glory.
I highly recommend this read- I am sure it is set to be a popular book club choice as it is just such an easy read, the prose is just perfect for contemporary fiction lovers looking to be entertained, but packs in trending topics from the voices we need to hear from. Reid has done a magnificent job of gifting this story and raising important issues to the masses – and this has already been picked up for a tv (or movie? I’m not positive) adaptation.
Mark your calendars- this one comes out Dec 31st!
 

 






I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on Such as Fun Age, but now I would love to hear what you think about this book!
Feel free to comment below or on my 'bookstagram' at @ReadWithWine .
 This review was originally posted on ReadWithWine ( )
  readwithwine | Feb 3, 2020 |
This was a fascinating storyline - easy to read, but great depth. The character of Emira was so sympathetic and I felt bad for her with all the people she was caught between. Sometimes uncomfortable, but very eye-opening. ( )
  amysan | Feb 2, 2020 |
With hopeful anticipation created from hearing good reviews, I sat down last evening to start Kiley Reid’s debut novel, “Such a Fun Age”. Some hours later, I realized it was past 1 a.m., and I’d finished the entire book in one sitting. I can confirm that it was worth losing sleep over. This is truly an excellent book - real, honest, and written with a sure hand for dialogue and with amazing, nuanced character development.

The story centers around Emira, a 26-year old black women who is trying to figure out what to do with her life. She is a part-time babysitter for a well-off white couple, Alix and Pete, who have two little girls, a lovely toddler named Briar and baby Catherine. Alix is an influencer who has built her brand/reputation on reviewing products and inspiring young women. The story spins out when Emira is asked to take Briar out of the house late one night due to a domestic issue. They go to a neighborhood grocery store where a white security office officer and customer mistakenly confront her and assume she has taken a white child. The incident is caught on video by a white man named Kelley, and this encounter provides some of the backdrop for the rest of the story.

What a fascinating set of relationships this book provides! Both Emira and Alix have a group of supportive female friends that are enjoyable to read about. The employer-employee relationship between Alix and Emira becomes weirdly awful and always compelling. Emira and Kelley begin talking and then dating after the grocery store incident, and their relationship is intriguing and well written. My favorite part of the book was the warm and loving relationship between Emira and little Briar, a beautifully described toddler who is funny and perceptive and elevated as an important part of this story – it’s a very moving depiction.

This is great novel on many levels – it includes multiple themes such as families and parenting, the importance of friendships, issues of class and racism, coming-of-age stories, societal pressures and consumerism, and more. It also has an interesting plot twist! Overall, “Such a Fun Age” is a pleasure to read. ( )
  KatyBee | Jan 28, 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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