Such a Fun Age: On Race, Class, and Self-Awareness

Review: Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

First off, I want to thank the team at Putnam Books for sending me this gorgeous copy of Kiley Reid’s debut novel, Such a Fun Age. I was so surprised to receive the adorable package they sent which included crayons, a coloring page, and a mini box of Cheerios! It was the most adorable package and was perfectly fitting for this amazing novel!

Such a Fun Age centers on Emira Tucker, a black twenty-five-year-old babysitter for the wealthy, white Chamberlain family. Peter Chamberlain is a local news reporter while his wife Alix is a lifestyle blogger. They have two young daughters that Emira cares for. Emira wants to find a different job, as her twenty-sixth birthday looms over her so she is about to lose her health insurance. As much as she knows she needs something more, she has bonded with 2-year-old Briar Chamberlain. It is clear from their interactions that Alix is not in tune with what her oldest daughter Briar needs. One night, Alix calls Emira to come in to watch Briar while they deal with an incident at home. Emira takes her to the local high-end grocery store to keep the little girl occupied for a bit. While there, a white woman and a security guard approach them and begin to question Emira. In an explicit example of outright racism, the woman claims to be concerned for the young child’s well-being. Aa Emira explains the situation and defends herself, a young man is standing nearby filming the entire interaction on his cell phone. The only thing that eventually appeases the security guard is calling Peter Chamberlain to come down and speak to the security guard to vouch for Emira. The novel explores Emira’s relationship with the Chamberlain family, the effects and aftermath of the video, and Emira’s own journey through adulthood and independence.

I was absolutely blown away by this book. It was definitely a fun and entertaining read, but more importantly, it explores the often misguided actions and beliefs of well-intentioned white people who claim to be advocates of minorities. It beautifully demonstrated what can happen to those that lack self-awareness. While two white characters each claimed to have Emira’s best interest at heart, they were both doing the exact same thing to her. Instead of actually letting her speak for herself and listening to her, they made assumptions and projected their own issues surrounding race and class onto her. This phenomenon is all too common. It’s along the same lines of the tired old “I have a black friend so I can’t be racist” mentality. This novel does such an incredible job with the dual perspective that allows us into the minds of both Emira and Alix and their different social circles and how they collide. The novel explores the themes of race, class, self-awareness, microaggressions, privilege, nuanced power dynamics, motherhood, fetishization of minorities, and coming of age.

I really do recommend this novel for anyone, but particularly for those that struggle to understand privilege. It is also a very fun read and I found myself gasping several times as I read it. I was ecstatic to see that Reese Witherspoon also picked it up as her Book Club’s newest selection! This novel deserves all the praise it has been getting. I absolutely cannot wait to see what Kiley Reid writes next! I posted my Top Ten Books of 2019 on the morning of December 31st, but I finished Such a Fun Age that night and I need to amend it. This is in my top 3 books of 2019 and it was such a wonderful book to end the year on! It came out on December 31st so it’s on shelves now! You can order it below!

Order Such a Fun Age below!

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