Such a Fun Age, Kiley Reid
If I had to sum this title up in one word, it would be ‘meh’.
Luckily, this is my blog and I can give myself as many words as I want.
Kiley Reid’s debut, Such a Fun Age, has received all the hype and secured a coveted spot in Reese Witherspoon’s book club. Here’s my question for Reese: Why, tho?
A brief synopsis:
Emira Tucker is a twenty-five-year-old babysitter. She has no plans for the future, and in a short time, she will lose her health insurance. Which is a valid concern and could be easily rectified, but we’re not going to get into that here.
Emira babysits for the Chamberlain family. Mr. and Mrs. Chamberlain have two young girls, Briar and Catherine. Emira is tasked with caring for Briar while Mrs. Chamberlain works on writing her book. Easy peas, right?
One night, there is a disturbance at the Chamberlain home, so they call Emira for help. She and her friend Zara take little Briar to an upscale grocery store up the street to wait for the commotion to die down.
Things at the store take a turn when a customer rats on Emira, suspecting her of kidnapping Briar. Because it is known that people who have just committed a crime always head straight for a the bulk nut department of Whole Foods where they proceed to have a dance party. Anyway, Emira is pissed. The Chamberlains are pissed. Everyone is pissed. After the incident, Emira is approached by a man who recorded the whole encounter. He emails it to her for her to do with as she pleases.
This story had a lot of promise. I loved Briar and Zara immediately. I also immediately wanted to set fire to the random woman’s house for being such a nosy, and racist, piece of shit. The scene is a launch pad for the rest of the book, but, honestly, it was the most interesting part of the book for me.
Now for the fun stuff.
If you plan on reading this book, stop here.
You’ve been warned.
I’d first like to talk about Mrs. Chamberlain and what a tedious, self-righteous cow she is. God. If I had to sum her up in one statement, it would be: She legally changed her name from Alex to Alix – pronounced Ahh-licks – and I feel like that’s all you need to know to get an accurate feel for who she is as a person.
Alex seemed okay. Alix would definitely call the cops on a child for selling lemonade without a permit. Alix would hire someone to open her child’s Christmas presents for them. Alix’s whole gig is, she writes letters to companies to ask them for free shit. And then she is applauded for being a blunt woman who asks for what she wants. < This last part is real. I made up the lemonade and presents things. The last part, though, is her actual job.
She and her husband leave Manhattan for Philadelphia when he has a chance to make it big as a local newsanchor. And then he immediately makes a racist comment on air while Alix spends the bulk of her time pretending to still live Manhattan on social media. They are truly exhausting people. Which makes the Emira scenes that much better.
Emira is relatable to a lot of people. People of all color can imagine the fear and anxiety associated with losing your health insurance. People of color can relate to the fear and anxiety associated with being targeted by racist assholes. I get Emira and I love her. Her relationship with Briar, the Chamberlain’s two-year-old, is precious. They genuinely love each other. It’s sweet to read, but also really illustrates how little Alix seems to care for Briar. She did breastfeed her at a conference as a publicity stunt, and if that ain’t love…
I had high hopes for this book when Emira started dating Kelly, the man who filmed the incident at the store. See, turns out, he dated Alix back when she was still Alex. Everyone makes this discovery when Emira and Kelly show up for Thanksgiving dinner at the Chamberlains. I expected, and wanted, more of a blow up. Alix claimed repeatedly that Kelly ruined her life. But, when the tragic, live changing event is revealed to the reader, it’s like, that? That’s what ruined your life and made you change your name to something nonsensical? It was let down.
Okay, on a positive note, I did like the writing style. The author has a knack for introducing humor, usually via Briar or Zara, into tense scenes. Her characters felt real, even the ones who were heinous.
So, not my favorite book, but certainly not the worst I’ve read. That title still belongs to Milkman. You can read that review here.