This is the second time I’ve read Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid and it certainly won’t be the last. This is a coming of age story with race at the centre, with a cast of very realistic characters with plenty of depth. Even though the book is character driven, I was gripped from start to finish – there is so much to analyse and think about.
This review will have some spoilers.
Star rating: 5 stars
The book centres on two main characters – Emira, a Black woman of 25 (we’re the same age, and I felt that), and Alix, a woman of 32. Emira’s the sitter of Alix’s children Briar and Catherine, but spends most of her time looking after Briar. I felt a little bit like Briar might be autistic, but it isn’t mentioned in the book specifically.
Emira is so lost – she has no idea what she wants to do with her life (hey me too), but she enjoys looking after Briar and also does a few days at a transcription job. One day, Alix asks her to come and take Briar out late at night (aside, Alix’s husband said something racist and sexist on TV so people are throwing rocks through their window). Emira, needing the cash, leaves a friend’s birthday party and takes Briar to the grocery store and the girl likes smelling tea and looking at nuts. Whilst there, people question why the child is with Emira and a man captures the situation on video.
Alix is a 32 (ish?) year old who is basically an influencer in New York, but when she gets pregnant with her second child she has no choice but to move out of the city. And so Catherine is born, and Alix works from home on her new book, hiring Emira to look after her kids. After the situation at the grocery store, Alix feels really guilty and tries to make amends, amends that Emira doesn’t really want.
Emira dates the person who took the video of the grocery store, Kelley. Turns out, Kelley dated Alix in high school, and the two have a complicated past. I really enjoyed the dynamic between Kelley and Alix when the two meet for the first time in 15 years. Both are convinced the other is bad for Emira, and that the other is being a bad white person. Turns out, they both have their own racial biases and micro-aggressions. Who’d have thought?
Emira’s realisations about the people around her are some of the most powerful in the book – I really loved the way she fights back. I also enjoyed her relationship with the child, Briar. Emira’s the only person in her life who seems to give her the attention and love she deserves.
I was particularly happy to see what the end gave us flashes into the future for each of our central characters which was a really complete way to end the book. Overall this is a fantastic debut and I will definitely be picking up Kiley Reid’s future novels.