This week’s post is a straight forward book review of a novel that was anything but. “Such a Fun Age” by Kiley Reid was a fun read. It was more than that too. It posed some important questions and held the mirror up to some common truths about the world we live in.
I read “Such a Fun Age”, my first Kiley Reid novel, on holiday in Cornwall. It was a really great holiday read – a page turner with a lot of humor and a book that’s deep enough to be worth reading.
Set in modern day Philadelphia, it was easy to picture the scene – a wealthy, beautiful family, with a glamorous new babysitter. We got to know the babysitter and her fabulous bunch of friends well as the story unfolded. We enjoyed hanging out with the vibrant multi-cultural twenty-somethings who supported each other, forged their paths in life and had a huge amount of fun along the way.
We also got to know the employees too – gorgeous little girl, Briar, and slightly annoying Mom, Alix.
The first scene had me hooked because it reflected so many true stories that we’re all too familiar with. A Black person assumed to be a criminal, guilty until proven innocent, a victim of assumption, stereotyping, fear and every day racism. My heart was pounding as I read about Emira’s experience in a supermarket late at night. Accused of kidnapping the child she was babysitting, she tried to explain herself and we were right there with her as she became more and more frightened. She’d seen the news too. She knew how badly things can go wrong with the police and Black people.
As we cantered through the dating, parties and career crises of the girls we all recognised a little bit of ourselves in, we also got to know the sinister and misguided boss, Alix, or Mrs Chamberlain, as Emira called her while in her unofficial babysitting uniform, and her heartbreaking ex, Kelley. Both “loved” Emira and were unconscious of their inappropriate attitudes towards her. They were completely different, but each with something to proveand neither seeing Emira for her true self, underneath her skin tone.
I’ve always promised to not include any spoilers in my book reviews, so I won’t say much more, but I will say this. Just like all good holiday reads, this novel ends with courage and sass from our heroine. And just like all good fiction, it’s close enough to reality to make you think carefully about the world around us and our part in it – but there’s also just enough fairy tale magic to take us away from it all too.
It’s a four out of five stars from me, and another Black author to add to my list of favourites.
Thank you Kiley Reid, and thank you everyone for reading this post. If you’ve read “Such a Fun Age”, let me know what you think.