I recently started reading ‘Such a Fun Age’ by Kiley Reid, and it was such a fantastic, refreshing read that I finished it in a matter of days!
‘Such a Fun Age’ follows the story of Emira, a young black woman living in Philadelphia, and working for a rich white family as their nanny. Emira is 25, broke, and finds herself loving the child she looks after- despite finding Mr and Mrs Chamberlain a lot to handle. She isn’t really sure what she wants to do with her life, and she feels a bit lost about her career.
The book also follows Alix Chamberlain, Emira’s boss. She has recently made the move to Philadelphia and she struggles to fit in after loving her busy, workaholic life in New York. She is obsessed with how things appear, running a feminist blog and social media- and even writing a book about how she requests items from well-known companies in exchange for promotion.
As a blogger myself, I found it interesting (and a little unbelievable) how she managed to score such amazing product collaborations- and I loved watching as she grew from a small blogger into a panel guest, feminist writer, and famous social media presence.
I thought that Alix’s character was going to be relatable, but to be honest her narration soon became very manipulative, particularly as she became more involved with the life of her nanny. After an incident in a local grocery store, Alix slowly becomes obsessed with Emira- to the point where it becomes very uncomfortable.
Alix wants to be in Emira’s life and she becomes obsessed with what she’s doing, who she’s dating, and how she lives her life. She tries to prove to Emira that she is not the “typical” rich white woman- and in doing so goes to crazy lengths to keep up appearances.
Emira starts a relationship with an older white man early in the book, and he also acts a little strange about Emira’s race. He encourages Emira to fight battles that she doesn’t want to, and his obsession with race, like Alix, comes across as strange and a little creepy.
It seems by viewing Emira as “different” both those characters create her into something she’s not- and whether it’s a fetish, an obsession with looking good, or just curiosity- it brings up some very uncomfortable but insightful questions about otherness and the experience of people of colour in America.
The obsession of Kelley and Alix with race is very striking in this book. Alix is obsessed with making Emira’s life better somehow, and she wants to be friends with her to the point of pure obsession. Alix’s friends also try to make Emira’s life “better”- thinking that because they have more money, or even because they are white, they know better than Emira.
I loved this book. It was easy to read, refreshing, and fast-paced, but it also managed to effectively tackle some very interesting, often uncomfortable, questions about race that I’ve never seen in other fiction.
I thought the different dynamics between the characters were very interesting. Alix’s rich friends want to “improve” Emira in a way that was both patronising and suggested the condescension of awful times gone past.
One of these friends is a rich, middle-class black woman- and she is even more condescending towards Emira. It seems that as well as the issue of race, Reid also wants to show the class issues at play, with Emira struggling financially throughout the book.
The dynamic between Emira and her boyfriend Kelley was also illuminating, and Kelley’s obsessions with “doing the right thing” showed his ignorance and inability to listen to what Emira actually needed. Yes, the incident at the grocery store is wrong- but it is Emira’s choice whether she fights it or not.
Kelley and Alix have a history, too, and so the dynamic between these characters is also interesting to read. Both characters see each other as “wrong” and “right” and I loved considering the complex moral questions that run throughout this book.
In some ways, Alix acts as if people of colour are just people that white people, such as Kelley, want to outsmart and use- even though she is doing the same thing by being so over-protective and possessive of Emira.
I’ve honestly never read anything like this book! ‘Such a Fun Age’ was such a refreshing read and I loved how Emira’s narration was so realistic, funny, and well-written. I’ve never read anything that so realistically represents the experience of a character, while still maintaining an easy-to-read, refreshing feel that made this an enjoyable read.
I would recommend this book for anyone who likes a refreshing read with very modern, realistic characters. There were times when I felt uncomfortable, times when I laughed out loud, and times when I couldn’t believe what Emira had to go through everyday.
Have you read ‘Such a Fun Age’ by Kiley Reid? Do you want to read this refreshing book now you’ve read my review? What is your favourite read at the moment?
Let me know all your thoughts in the comments below 🙂
Happy reading x
Picture credits here