Such A Fun Age is an AMAZING novel! It tackles weighty subjects like race and classism from myriad angles. Tough topics require a multi-faceted analysis…an inspection. This book does exactly that. And does it courageously. The story begins with an act of blatant racism; an act quite similar to the ones we’ve seen in current headlines and documented on social media. Kiley Reid uses this event as a jumping off point from which to shine a light on the more subtle microaggressions that are just as prevalent in today’s society. She examines the dynamics of interracial romantic relationships. And she tackles how the employer-employee transactional relationship can be disrupted by the lack of honest communication causing boundaries to be blurred. And what’s even more amazing about this novel, is that Reid is able to address these issues in a way that is humorous, as well as, thought-provoking.
Such A Fun Age centers around its two main characters, Emira and Alix. Emira, a twenty-something, is struggling to find her footing in a grown up world. She’s in the midst of a “failure to launch” scenario; watching her friends’ lives and careers blossom at a more conventional pace than hers. So it’s no wonder the strongest relationship she develops in the story is with the, equally eccentric and struggling, 3 year old that she babysits. Alix is an ambitious, career-driven, mother of two. When she interviews Emira for a part-time babysitting position, Alix is immediately smitten (in a platonic way), and quickly hires her. Alix’s mission is to become close with Emira, and make her a part of the family. Alix wants to steer Emira’s life towards the future she has envisioned for her. Unfortunately, she doesn’t inform her new employee of this plan. When Emira’s romantic life begins to spice up, her work life with Alix starts to become very problematic. What ensues is a spot-on illustration of how being heavily tethered to your past can totally eff-up your present; leaving collateral damage in its wake.
I really enjoyed this book. My only criticism would be the character development of Emira. Alix is definitely flawed. But part of me understood her frustrations with Emira. I just wanted so much for Emira to be more than what she was. I wanted her to want more. She’s clearly intelligent. But Emira’s also so withholding and lethargic at times. As I was reading, I felt myself willing her to have more drive. Be more expressive. Unfortunately, she never really gets there. I’m not entirely sure why it bothered me so much. Maybe because I’m a woman of color, it’s difficult for me to see another woman of color (albeit, a fictional one) portrayed that way.
In spite of my criticisms, I think Such A Fun Age is a great novel. This work is a phenomenal debut for Kiley Reid. Brava!
Not pictured in the above photo is my beverage of choice for this book…Boochcraft, hard kombucha flavored with grapefruit, hibiscus, and heather. Boochcraft has other flavors, but this one’s definitely my favorite. So yummy! (boochcraft.com)