It’s going to be a long one as I absolutely loved Such a Fun Age (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️) and could not wait to share my thoughts with others. Everything about this book is fun: from the deliciously designed hard copy to the story and characters themselves. What is probably less fun, are the topics of racial and class inequalities. But Kiley Reid intertwines them in the story of love, motherhood, and friendship with such wit and ease, that she achieves what so many writers fail to do. Reid accounts for the fact there is so much more to life than skin colour or background talking about both without stereotypical approaches.
Emira Tucker, is a 25-year-old babysitter, working for a white family in present-day, Philadelphia. We meet her one night when she takes little Briar to a supermarket. There she is stopped under suspicion of kidnapping a child she is looking after. Unlike other racial incidents recorded on camera and gone viral, this one doesn’t lead to a tragic ending. Instead, Emira calls the father of a child “an old white guy so I’m sure everyone will feel better” who comes and vouches for her. The incident, filmed by one of the clients, is possibly the most thrilling book opening I have read in a long time. It prompts the events that follow in a non-trivial way. For one, it starts an exciting romance between Emira and Kelley, a white guy who filmed it on his mobile. It also allows Mira to reflect on the predicament she found herself in. ‘This wouldn’t have happened if you had a real fucking job.’
From Emira’s perspective we learn that at age of 25, she is a part-time babysitter (‘not even a nanny!’) who constantly compares herself to her more successful girlfriends. Permanently broke, soon without health insurance and with no particular plans for the future, she is prone to others’ willingness to mold her into someone who she has no desire to be.
The other half of the story is told from Emira’s employer’s point of view, and the mother of Briar, Alix. She is a personal blogger, who after giving birth to her second child, comes back to Philadelphia following her husband’s news anchor career. After the ‘Market Depot incident’, Alix decides to get to know her sitter better. She develops some kind of girl’s crush on Emira and later this innocent fascination, which started with checking notifications on the phone and the music she listens to, slowly turns into a slight obsession and desire for control.
For me, the book was a real page-turner I just didn’t want to finish. Twists and turns along the way just add to the excitement of characters I could relate to. There are no particularly evil people here, and all the good and bad choices they make could be easily questioned. Reid loosely based the story on her experience as a babysitter in NYC, which allows her to reveal a nuanced picture of a contemporary, multicultural, and class-divided world with the complexities of people’s motivations.
It seems purposeful to finish the book without an obvious happy ending. Reid’s brilliant writing made me feel so close to Emira Tucker I have almost forgotten she is just a book character. Being able to identify with her, I was even more annoyed when Reid didn’t complete her story on an and they lived happily ever after note. It is the way Reid is testing me, I believe. Not respecting Emira’s choices, would make me as judgmental as everyone else in the book, claiming to know what is best for her.
Since I finished Such a Fun Age, I have become obsessed with Kiley Reid myself. I still don’t know whether it is dangerous or not but I have been reading all book reviews and watching Reid’s every appearance that I possibly could find on the Internet. To say that I cannot wait to read whatever she writes next would be an understatement. Her fresh and well-observed writing took me on a journey I wish I could somehow continue.