Such A Fun Age is Kiley Reid’s debut novel and she comes out swinging with this fantastic piece of writing.
The story focuses on Emira, a nanny for a wealthy family. She’s a young black woman whose life is turned upside down when she is accosted by a security guard in a grocery shop, assuming she has kidnapped the child.
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It is a funny, easy read, looking at the dynamics of privilege, racism and sexism from various points of view. There’s Alix Chamberlain, a rich white woman who just wants the best for Emira, and constantly feels guilty for her wealth. She reminded me of Jessica Chastain’s character in The Help – only more intelligent.
Kelley, Emira’s white boyfriend who, whilst lovely and supportive, has a ‘thing’ for black people. And not in a good way. More in an I-have-never-said-the-N-word-and-read-MLK-once-so-I’m-down-with-black-people way.
If you’re a black woman, you’ve likely met the type. And ran away.
Emira’s friends are literally the best friends a girl could have. Zara is the best and, hopefully, you come out of the novel loving her as I much as did. We all need a Zara.
Reid’s characters are all nuanced and authentic, which adds to the relatability of the novel, and there are so many plot and character connections that genuinely made me laugh. It looks at the struggles of being a woman in your early 20s – you’re an adult, but still not a ‘grown-up’.
Moreover, Emira’s infantilisation at the hands of her white female boss, who seems to be ‘GirlBoss’ personified, and fetishisation by her boyfriend Kelley, exposes how white liberalism can quickly turn into white saviourism.
Whilst they both seem to mean well and want to see that security guard punished, nobody seems to listen to what Emira wants. Which is to be left alone.
I can relate.
If you’re looking for a read that is not only funny but insightful in its careful and realistic dissection of how we can all feel about privilege and race, Such A Fun Age is for you.