Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

by belinda
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Good Reads Summary

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. 

My Thoughts (spoiler-free)

I was drawn to this book when I heard a description of this debut novel saying that a black babysitter was accused of kidnapping her white child she takes care of. But after reading this book, I realize it was so much more than that particular incident that occurs near the beginning of the book. The book explores the dynamics between a young black nanny/babysitter, Emira for a white family, the Chamberlains (particularly Alix). The book slowly unfolds the back story of Alix while the reader wrestles with the true intentions of the relationship. I think the fact that Emira was very young, led her down certain paths and allowed her to question herself throughout the story.

It explores the family dynamics between Alix and her two children as well as her husband. It explores the dynamics of an employer (Alix) and an employee (Emira). It was a transactional relationship that Alix often tried to portray in a different way by calling Emira family. But really we all know there is no such thing when money is exchanged for services. I think it was a way that Alix tried to make herself feel better about hiring someone to care for her children (specifically her firstborn).

The book cleverly delves more into Alix’s backstory when Emira inadvertently comes into contact with Alix’s past. I think this was a clever way to explore more of the issues in the story and a way to move the story forward. I really enjoyed the characters in this book. I think she did a great job with Alix’s friends. I really liked Emira’s friend, who presented a little rough around the edges but she kept it real with Emira as Emira explored her life’s options.

This book was surprisingly a great story. I don’t know what I expected but what I ended up reading was really good. A great debut novel.

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