Such a Fun Age
by Kiley Reid
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.
I know that this book was extremely popular last year. I hadn’t yet picked it up because, based on title alone, I had believed it was a book for mums raising children and I didn’t think I’d be that interested. Then it was chosen as the book of the month for the London Women’s Literary Collective and it only felt right to see what all of the hype was about!
I was so wrong, this is definitely not a book about children! “Such a Fun Age” follows Emira Tucker, a 25 year old baby sitter for Alix Chamberlain, a wealthy businesswoman. In the early pages of this book, Emira, a young black woman, is confronted in a local grocery store and accused of kidnapping the white child in her care. The story that unfolds follows these two women in the aftermath.
I particularly liked hearing the inner thoughts of Alix and Emira, especially when they differed so much from the words and actions that followed. How often have we agreed to something when inside we’re dreading it or think it’s a terrible idea? So often! And that’s just one of the things which make this story feel very authentic.
Both Emira and Alix felt real to me, despite their flaws. They both had groups of friends who were questionable at times, but not unrealistic. This book explores inter-racial relationships in all aspects of life: romance, friendship and employment. I really liked the relationship between Emira and Briar, the child in her care, who truly stole my heart. The relationship between the two was adorable and one of the only reasons that Emira was still working in a job that her peers felt was beneath her. I can totally understand why Emira wouldn’t have wanted to say goodbye to innocent Briar and her quirky curiosity.
“One day, when Emira would say good-bye to Briar, she’d also leave the joy of having somewhere to be, the satisfaction of understanding the rules, the comfort of knowing what’s coming next, and the privilege of finding a home within yourself.”
I think that what I liked most about this book was how the author somehow managed to cover some deep, thought-provoking topics in a light, easy read. I think that the cover and the title are totally deceiving, in a positive way. The cover is pink with cute illustrations on the front, but what’s inside is a much more compelling commentary on race and privilege. It certainly provoked a lot of detailed conversations at book club and I think that any popular fiction that can do that is a positive!
Overall rating: “Such a Fun Age” is a topical read that I believe is worth the hype it’s getting. I appreciate how the author has managed to leave us thinking about some really important topics, without being preachy. I sped through this and will happily give it a big 5 stars!