Review: Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

I enjoyed this novel. I cringed through this novel. I related to several characters in this novel. I was repelled by several characters in this novel. And yes, there was overlap to all those feelings. SUCH A FUN AGE by Kiley Reid has received a tremendous amount of acclaim and attention for good reason. It’s readable, relatable, it feels like a peek into other people’s lives, and it’s timely in its treatment of both race and class-based bias. While some of the dialogue feels uneven, it also moves the story forward smoothly and develops characters without slogging through narration. The two main characters, Emira and Alix, a Black babysitter and her white employer, are at once recognizable and surprising as we get to know them. Neither makes all the best choices during the novel, although depending on a reader’s life experience, sympathy and understanding will appear and waver. Overall, this debut novel will make readers think and hopefully examine their own biases even as they enjoy the story.

The writing is fantastic and dances along the lines of class and race and gender and coming-of-age on so many levels. The opening scene jumps right out of current events when Emira, who is Black, takes her white, almost three-year-old, babysitting charge to a high-end grocery store and is accused of kidnapping the child by the white security guard. He doesn’t allow her to leave, and the tension is palpable and recognizable. A white man records the interaction on his phone, and that factors heavily into the ending, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There are two different friend groups on which readers eavesdrop during the novel. Emira’s friends like to go out, tease each other, lend each other clothes, drinks, and advice, and they are supportive if ignorant to the realities of money troubles in Emira’s life. Alix’s friend group has become long distance since she moved to Philadelphia from NYC, and the texts and in person discussions are less naturally crafted, but still deepen our understanding of their relationships with one another.

The novel weaves together so many awkward interactions that some readers may be tempted to escape by putting down the book — but don’t! It’s worth reading if only to argue with friends about who is the hero and who is the villain. The author’s gift to us is flashbacks and internal monologues that allow for understanding of character motivation, if not agreement. My suspicion is the Reid sees no one as a hero or a villain, and she hopes we will recognize reflections of ourselves in many different scenes. In my reading, I didn’t like anyone in the novel that much, but I sympathized with everyone. It was an unsteady feeling that felt a lot like real life. And I truly look forward to Kiley Reid’s second novel.

About That Unique* Weblog

Adjusting to car culture, dealing with leaving a career I loved, and spouting off along the way. Do The Most Good.
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2 Responses to Review: Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

  1. Lauren Becker says:

    Sounds like a fantastic read! I really do want to check this one out. I love that it had such a mix of characters.


  2. Great review! I’ve never read anything by this author. I will have to check her out.

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