Such A Fun Age - Kiley Reid
Format: Hardback Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Published: December 2019 Genre: Literary School Setting: Philadelphia, USA Rating: 3/5 Stars
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. (Source: Book Blurb)
My Thoughts..... Being an African living on the continent, I am very cognisant that we experience racism differently. In most cases, it's not systemic or manifested in overt acts of aggression like in other parts of the Western world, but in more subtle but still horrendous acts of discrimination, deeply rooted in colonial legacies and trauma. But the situation depicted in this book, is definitely one I have seen too often: a black woman as the caregiver/nanny to the children of white families and the ensuing interplay of money, race, privilege and class. Emira is a black, 25 year old recent graduate, trying to get her life together and find a decent job. She 'temporarily' takes on a babysitting gig for a rich white couple as she waits to hopefully land a job that pays well enough and has benefits. When one night, her employer, Alix, calls her and asks her to take their eldest child, Briar, to the store, as they deal with a family emergency. At the store, Emira is confronted by the security guard and accused of kidnapping the white child.
The book definitely reads like a Young Adult (YA) book but beneath the surface there are deeper thought provoking issues that Reid highlights. At the core of the book is white privilege and Reid through her characters, attempts to show how white people can over-compensate and unknowingly centre themselves in other people's lives. It felt like a mirror held up to white people imploring them to look at their reflection and acknowledge how their privilege and pseudo-wokeness can manifest in different ways but have the same damaging effect for black folks.
If I were to loosely summarize this book in a one sentence, it would be: 'A book about a bunch of white people fighting over who is more racist than the other and who is better placed to speak for the black woman.'
I however loved the pacing of the book and it is one you can easily finish up in one sitting. There are funny bits and conversations and Reid is able to capture that 'millennial feel' in her characters so aptly. I couldn't help but shake my head in some scenes thinking, 'that is such a 2000- born way to behave'.
It is such a fun read though and I'd encourage you to pick it up.