“. . . then hearing her use words like connoisseur, Alix was filled with feelings that went from confused and highly impressed to low and guilty in response to the first reaction. There was no reason for Emira to be unfamiliar with this word. And there was no reason for Alix to be impressed.” – Kiley Reid
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Published by Putnam, 2019
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Review by Indiana
The tongue-in-cheek title perfectly suits this thought-provoking and stirring novel. It follows Emira, a 25-year-old who is trying to figure out what to do with her life with the prospect of increasing rent and losing her parent’s health insurance, while her friends all seem to be already on their desired career paths.
For now, she is a typist for the Green Party and babysits for an upper-middle class white family who recently moved to Philadelphia. The mom, Alix, calls her late one night to ask her to take Briar, her toddler, to the grocery store. In need of some fast cash, Emira agrees. While there, she is racially profiled by the store’s security guard and accused of kidnapping Briar. One shopper, a guy named Kelley, films the entire thing and once she is finally let go, offers to send her the video so she can share it on social media.
Except that the last thing Emira wants or needs.
She goes back to her job, where Alix starts suddenly trying to get to know her and becomes slightly obsessed with her. Though she’s supposed to be writing a book based on her business called LetHerSpeak, Alix spends much of her days doing anything besides writing, and her odd obsession with Emira only seems to grow.
Meanwhile, she starts dating Kelley, a white guy who seems to have his life together and a nice apartment. But he keeps pushing Emira to share the video on social media without listening to her reasons for not wanting to share it.
Things get messier with Emira’s home/work life when it turns out that Alix and Kelley dated in high school and that it didn’t end well. Both Emira’s boss and her boyfriend have a “who can be the least racist” contest and only end up harming Emira in their battle.
Such a Fun Age was an intense book where you only ever completely agree with Emira. Alix and Kelley’s actions are both laced with “good intentions” but layered with their own desires to “seem” good or “woke” without really being either. Alix’s perspective, while understandable at first, turns deranged when she tries to win Emira back from Kelley.
There were so many moments that made my stomach churn throughout the novel and many scenes where all I wanted to do was sit down and talk it over with someone else. Coming in at 305 pages, it’s a packed book and well worth the read.