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Book Review: "Such a Fun Age" by Kylie Reid

Madeleine Ouellette

Posted on September 7, 2020 16:47

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Kylie Reid perfectly weaves together contemporary coming-of-age fiction with a confrontation of implicit biases and tension around race.

Kylie Reid’s debut novel, "Such a Fun Age", is a coming-of-age story in more ways than one. The story centers around two main characters, Emira Tucker, a 25-year-old Black woman, and Alix Chamberlain, a white mother who has made a career through blogging and public speaking. Alix hires Emira as a babysitter for her three-year-old daughter, Briar, and the story follows this relationship, as well as the separate lives of these two women.

There is an incident at the very beginning of the story in which Alix calls Emira very late one night and asks her to pick up Briar because something has happened at their home, and they don't want the little girl to be there. Emira obliges and comes to pick her up. She brings Briar to an upscale grocery store down the street to kill some time. A woman in the store ends up getting a security guard because she suspects that Emira has kidnapped the little girl (Emira is Black and the child is white). There is a confrontation and a young white man in the store records a video of the confrontation on his phone.

Emira ends up seeing this man again a few weeks later, and the two end up dating. The story centers around these two white characters, Alix and Emira's new boyfriend, Kelley, trying to decide what is best for Emira. There are themes of privilege, "white wokeness," and racism, intertwined with themes of growing up, finding one's way in the world, and what it really means to be an "adult."

Alix's character constantly makes the reader cringe as she tries to connect with Emira and be as non-racist as she can be. She's constantly trying to help her and give her advice, while all Emira really wants is to make money and spend time with the child she babysits.

In this book, there are some good twists and turns and definitely some surprises along the way, some of which may be a little contrived, but fun nonetheless. I felt that Kylie Reid did a fantastic job at writing a book that confronted real, timely themes, while also just being a story about a young woman trying to find her place in the world. It's a novel that somehow simultaneously is completely about race, and not about race at all.

Madeleine Ouellette

Posted on September 7, 2020 16:47

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Source: NYT

An excerpt from “Such a Fun Age,” by Kiley Reid

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