Such a Fun Age
Book Reviews

Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid {#ReesesBookClub pick}

There’s so much to unpack in this review, that I don’t really have time to dawdle with an opening paragraph! The first book I read from Reese’s book club pick, was evidently our own Book Club pick for January – Where the Crawdads Sing. I loved that book so much ( I realise I have not reviewed it yet!!), so when I had the opportunity to review another one of Reese’s picks, I jumped on it. Such a Fun Age is Reese’s January 2020 book of the month and the synopsis immediately drew me in. Would this book be a repeat of how much I enjoyed the last book she chose? Let’s find out! Such a fun age

What is Such a Fun Age about?

Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living showing other women how to do the same. A mother to two small girls, she started out as a blogger and has quickly built herself into a confidence-driven brand. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler one night. Seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, a security guard at their local high-end supermarket accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make it right.

But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix’s desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.

With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone “family,” the complicated reality of being a grown up, and the consequences of doing the right thing for the wrong reason.

Pre-review Story time

As a person of colour myself, this story line was always going to grab me. After reading the synopsis, I thought of something that I experienced in my late teens. There was a very well known gift shop at a mall close to my house. I loved going in there, because they had the best cards, names on mugs, balloons, etc. I started realising though, that the minute I walked in…..the manager of the store, would leave her post at the front of the store….to follow me around. Initially, I tried not to take it personally, but I’d look around and there’d be 6 other people in the store….all white, but she’d only be following me. I would purchase something, so she’d know: Hey I’m not a coloured person that steals!

I always felt so humiliated leaving the store…..and I eventually vowed to never set foot in one of those stores ever again. 20yrs later, I have kept that promise. This is one of the many situations I face, as somebody with melanin in my skin. Every POC has a story like this….and many, far worse I am sure!

Backstory out of the way, I kind of went into this book with this experience at the back of my mind……

My Review

The Characters and Story line

The story centers around Emira and Alix. Emira is Alix’s kids’ babysitter, and one night, taking Alix’s daughter to a supermarket, Emira is accused of kidnapping 3yr old Briar. Why? Pretty much because Emira is black and Briar is white. Alix comes from a life of wealth, white skin and priviledge, so she’s mortified that this has happened. She then wants to fix things and make sure that Emira knows: ‘I’m not like ‘them‘.’

From the synopsis, I went in expecting a story that was going to bring healing and light to these 2 women, and growth.

 

My thoughts

I was left really angry about what happens to Emira in that store, however, I didn’t feel like Emira was as angry. She didn’t want to talk about it, she didn’t yell or scream. People around her seemed more angry than she was. I can totally understand that though, the humiliation that one would experience, to talk about it, is to relive it, is to confront those feelings over and over. Also, as an African American woman, this has probably happened so many times. In her mind, she may be thinking, at least I didn’t get shot! Either this, or it’s a testament to how clueless and directionless Emira’s character is in life.

Okay, so Alix is appalled by this situation. She wants to make things right, so she throws money at Emira, tries to befriend her….but to me it borders on obsessive. Or stalkerish. Emira doesn’t strike me as a functioning adult woman, so why Alix, who is this successful, uppity woman, would want to befriend her kids sitter, in a creepy sort of way, doesn’t make sense to me. Looking at her phone, her messages, concerned with her love life….it’s too much for me to comprehend.

I must say, Emira’s relationship with Briar, is so moving and so heart warming….. it was truly the highlight of the book for me, and had me in tears at one stage.

I think the biggest problem for me, was that I didn’t connect too much with the characters. Also the story I thought I signed up for, really wasn’t the story in the end. There’s a bit of a side story, and relationship thing….that is actually what the book becomes about to me.

Topics within the book

So critique aside, this book touched on SO MANY THINGS!

Alix is talking to somebody from her past, and she’s thinking: Crap I’m so fat!! Why is he seeing me look like this! I saw criticism as to why the book seems to fat shame, but this is a very real thing that happens. I meet somebody from my past and my mind is all about how much weight I’ve picked up. Okay Alix’s friends were a bit brutal, but I am sure some women in the world have girlfriends like this, who don’t sugar coat things. I am not saying it’s right, but without a filter and hashtags around, people are not all roses and rainbows in private. In this regard, the writing and dialogue were very ‘real life’.

There was a part in the book where Alix thinks how impressive it is that Emira uses the word ‘connoisseur’. I went…hmmm mmmm….. We’ve heard people say it, we’ve said it, or it’s been said to us… ‘He speaks so well for a black person. ‘ This shit needs to stop.

Privilege….. there were so many things that I also took away from this book. We assume our normal is normal…. when in fact, your normal could very well be somebody’s dream. Something simple like having leftover food….or even better, wasting leftover food, because you’re getting take outs. So simple, but think about it……

My rating

Such a Fun Age has a Goodreads rating of 3.98 out of 5 stars. The reviews have been rave for this book! I’m a bit on the fence, because I thought the book touched on so many important issues. On the other hand, I just feel like the character development wasn’t there for me. Though I do feel this makes a great book club book pick, because we would talk for hours and in circles about everything that is touched on within this book. My rating is 3.5 stars out of 5.

Such a Fun Age retails for around R295 and will be available in South Africa in February 2020.

Thank you so much to Jonathan Ball Publishers for sending me this advanced review copy to review.

Such a Fun Age

 

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I’m Simone, a mom of 3, a wife, chocoholic and makeup lover! This is my little spot to talk about anything and everything I’m obsessed with.

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