This is probably one of the more challenging book reviews to write for several reasons. Such a Fun Age tackles important topics of racial inequality, white privilege, and societal issues. These are never easy to approach so I do commend her for this. However, although it addresses these really important issues, I feel that it was lacking in its delivery. The story itself wasn’t strong enough to acknowledge these controversial topics in an effective way. Instead, it leaves you with more questions than answers.
Kiley Reid’s Such a Fun Age is her debut novel and because of that, I’ll try to be less critical. The story starts with 25-year old Emira who is still trying to figure out her future while keeping afloat with her part-time babysitting gig for the Chamberlain family. Emira is black and Alix and Peter Chamberlain are white. As you can see there is already that racial divide of power and privilege. One night, while Emira is out with her friends enjoying life (as all Women in their 20’s should do) she gets an emergency call from Alix. Alix asks if Emira could take Briar, Alix’s daughter, to the store to get her out of the house for a bit. Emira agrees even though she isn’t in “babysitter attire.”
While at the supermarket with Briar, a security guard confronts Emira who is suspicious of seeing a black woman with a white 2 yr old girl. He then accuses her of kidnapping Briar and that’s when she calls Peter to come to the store and vouch for her. The whole thing is filmed by a white man in the store that night but Emira wants to forget that it ever happened. That is until she runs into this same man while on the train one day.
Alix, a social media influencer has made her living thus far by writing to large companies requesting free items to try as well as working on a novel. Talk about an ideal job! After this night, Alix makes it her goal to understand Emira and make it up to her. It quickly becomes overbearing, obsessive, and almost as if Alix has a girl crush on Emira. She is so completely desperate to make a connection with Emira and be her friend.
Emira begins dating the man from the train, Kelly, which as we know is the same man with the video of her from the supermarket that night. Did I also mention white? This is where Emira and Alix’s worlds collide and things really take a turn. We start to learn some secrets about Alix and Kelly’s pasts that make you question their intentions with Emira. Why does Kelly only date black Women? Why does Alix only hire black help? What is the correlation between Alix and Kelly and how did Emira get in the middle of the two? I’ll let you read the book for yourself to learn all the juicy details. I can say though that this is where the book finally starts to get interesting.
My main criticism of Such a Fun Age would have to be in the dialogue. The conversations that are written are super cringey. Kelly calls Emira “Miss” in the most awkward sentences where it’s almost unbelievable. Not to mention in almost every other sentence where Emira speaks it contains an “um” or “uh”. It’s hard to believe that someone actually talks like that and it makes it really difficult to read. Emira seems like a super educated woman but this type of dialogue takes away from that. And don’t even get me started on Alix. Her obsession and dialogue with Emira is overwhelming and again…cringeworthy.
Because of the way the dialogue was written and overall the story itself, it didn’t allow me to connect with any of the characters. This is really the most important part in my opinion. If I can’t connect with a character, then I’m just reading a story. Readers should come out feeling like they know the characters to really have an impact. I do think there is a really great story here and an especially powerful message to take away, however, it just didn’t hit the mark. I always recommend that you read a book for yourself though, so definitely give it try. Like everything, everyone has their own opinion and some of you may truly enjoy it!