Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons on December 31st, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Race
“I don’t need you to be mad that it happened. I need you to be mad that it just like… happens.”
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked this up. I heard people criticize it and others had a tepid response to it. But I haven’t had Reese Witherspoon steer me wrong yet, so I decided to take a chance anyway.
Such a Fun Age is about two women— Emira Tucker and Alix Chamberlain. Emira is a young black babysitter for the Chamberlain’s eldest daughter, Briar. She’s also currently juggling two jobs as she struggles to pay rent, keep her healthcare, and figure out what she wants to do with her life.
On the flip side, Alix is a wealthy white blogger and influencer who constantly battles doubts and insecurities from her teen years. But she keeps it under wraps while maintaining a facade that she has everything she could ever dream of.
One night when Emira is stopped by a security guard at a fancy grocery store and accused of kidnapping Briar, everything changes in an instant. This moment is caught on camera and Emira wants to forget all about it, but both Alix and the person who filmed the scene want to make things right to get justice for Emira.
I love this book with all my heart. I really didn’t expect to have such a connection with it, but I simply couldn’t put it down.
The writing is impeccable. It’s light and breezy—Reid makes you think that it’s a beachy read. Something you read to pass the time while you’re resting (safely and socially distant!!!) on the beach.
But it’s all a ruse, which is why I was so delighted with this book. I’ll be blunt—Reid critiques white people with quite a bit of nuance. She uses these characters to explore how “white saviours” believe they’re helping Black people, but are often making their lives harder instead.
She explores these ideas of how white people often overstep or overcorrect when around Black people. Are their intentions good? Or are there underlying motivations? Are they “woke”? Or are they only pretending to be to seem cool or part of the movement? In the end, Reid harshly shows the way in which white, liberal minded people’s well-meaning actions often take over situations and narratives to fit their own, rather than to benefit Black people.
I think what I really appreciated was the fact that Reid could’ve easily let these characters be over the top, one-dimensional stereotypes.
But she creates these fully-fleshed out characters that say and do all the right things to illustrate just how insidious racism can be.
It’s not always the white people yelling obscenities and racial epithets on the street. It’s the subtle comments and actions that can be just as harmful.
And what I love is beyond this incredible commentary, it’s also a story about two women who are completely different and what happens when their lives come together.
I think it best we went our separate ways, and that those paths never crossed again.Reid, full disclosure, I’m going to be using this line a lot.
Even though I gave this book five bubble teas, I have to be honest—I kind of hated the ending. No spoilers, but I think it did a disservice to Alix’s character development. Even though she’s a flawed person, she’s complex. And the ending made her out to be a one-dimensional villain. She’s much more interesting as a character when you thought that she truly believed that she was helping albeit with selfish intentions.
I can’t recommend this book enough! Don’t fall for the pretty cover. It’s much more than a tale of two women from separate worlds. It’s about the problem with the “white saviour complex” and how damaging even pretending to be “woke” is.