Reading in December hasn’t been the best so far. This has been one of the busiest months of the year, with many extra hours at work, many blog posts to prepare for the end of the year, and just, in general, the whole hustle and bustle of Christmas season. I’ve spent too many hours at the malls trying to figure out Christmas gifts for family and friends, and I still didn’t buy all of the things I wanted.
«Such a Fun Age» was a perfect book for this busy time of the year. Captivating and engaging, this novel brought to light many important subjects in an easy-to-read way.
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.
Thank you NetGalley and PENGUIN GROUP Putnam, G.P. Putnam’s Sons for a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own and not influenced by the company or its affiliates in any way.
From making a career through blogging, to interracial relationship, trying to do the right thing and overall showing some trivial moments that we tend to blow out of proportion, «Such a Fun Age» is ultimately a “comedy of good intentions” as the author herself called it in her speech at BookExpo Librarian Breakfast.
It was such a delight reading the book, but also listening to Kiley Reid’s speech that I will link down for you to listen if you’re interested.
Picking up debut novels can always be risky, but when I saw this on NetGalley, I immediately requested it and wished to get approved, because I only heard good things about this novel. I’m so happy that I read this book and I hope more of you will pick it up soon as well.
WHAT I LIKED:
1 – Let’s start with the writing! Kiley Reid’s narrative writing is so easy to absorb. It makes the whole reading experience very pleasant, as you get lost in the story not worrying about the words she used, the construction of sentences. This is definitely one of those books that you fall so deep into that you stop noticing the flip of the pages, and the story starts playing in your head. This is what I love the most about reading, the possibility to get lost in the narrative.
Even the very first sentence engages you right away:
“That night, when Mrs. Chamberlain called, Emira could only piece together the words “…take Briar somewhere…” and “…pay you double.”
If that is not the sign of a great writer, I don’t know what is!
2 – In «Such a Fun Age» we follow Emira, a 20 something African American girl, who just finished her grad school and is still trying to find herself and her place in this world. She is working as a babysitter at the Chamberlain family, looking after their older daughter Briar, and struggling to make the ends meet.
What surprised me the most as I was reading the story was how vivid and true Emira’s experiences felt. And after I watched that speech that Kiley Reid gave at BookExpo, I found out that many subjects that made it into the book were drawn from her own experience. She babysat for many families in New Your City during her twenties, so she knew exactly what it felt like being with the children she cared about, seeing the dynamic of various families and how they embraced their babysitters.
That’s why Emira’s character could practically walk from the pages of the book and become real in a matter of seconds.
3 – I really loved her relationship with Briar, the Chamberlain’s daughter. Their dynamic was so fun and sweet that I could see from the very beginning how difficult it would be for Emira to leave her job and eventually move on to something more permanent and stable, as she planned to do. Because that would require leaving Briar and that would be the most heartbreaking part.
4 – The book begins with Emira taking Briar to the shop late in the night at the request of Mr. and Mrs. Chamberlain, where she was accused of kidnapping their child. The whole situation spirals out of control in a matter of minutes.
And from that point, we are introduced to different opinions on the matter. While Emira just wants to forget about the whole thing and never, ever talk about it. Alix Chamberlain, the mother of Briar, and Kelley, the white guy who filmed the whole thing, think that they know what’s best for Emira. Each of them tries to persuade her to get justice or revenge, thinking that they are doing the right thing.
This book shows just how careful and mindful we need to be when we try to interfere with other’s lives, even if it’s out of the best intentions.
I realized that I could keep talking about this book non-stop, as there is still so much to cover, but that would make for a long and probably tedious review.
In such a short book, Kiley Reid managed to create so many characters – Alix, her husband Robert and their daughter Briar, each of them unique on their own; Emira and her girlfriends – Zara, Josefa, and Shaunie; Kelley and his relationship with Emira; not to forget Alix’s girlfriends from New York. This book doesn’t really have a “villain”, instead, it focuses on good intentions that sometimes might be for the wrong reasons.
If you read this book, I would love to hear your thoughts. Were you as impressed by it as I was? Did you find any of the subjects problematic? Did you like or dislike any of the characters?
Let’s discuss in the comments below!