Updated: Mar 30, 2020
Let me just preface this review with saying that I totally fan-girled over Kiley Reid. Earlier this month, I attended Literature Lover's Night Out, hosted by Valley Bookseller, and was able to listen to her talk about the story behind her book. She is just as brilliant, well spoken, and gorgeous in person. I loved hearing how she came to write her debut novel. Listening to her talk made me appreciate this book even more. Such a Fun Age takes a nuanced approach to racism and class. The characters are unique and will have you alternating between cringing and laughing. This book is awkwardly good...in a good way!
Emira is still trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life. She is done with college, has amazing friends as her support system, and a somewhat stable job as a regular babysitter to two year old, Briar, daughter to an affluent family. One evening, Alix (Briar's mother) calls Emira and asks her to take Briar for a couple of hours because a mini emergency came up. She takes Briar to a nearby grocery store (think Whole Foods-esque) and is accosted by a security guard and a concerned customer when they accuse Emira of kidnapping little Briar. To preface this story, Emira is African American and Briar is Caucasian. Emira is mortified and wants to put the incredibly awkward situation behind her, but Alix feels like she needs to go above and beyond to make it up to her.
Without giving too much of the plot away, the storyline goes from there and gets increasingly uncomfortable, in a good way. Reid's writing sheds a different light on racism, without doing so in a heavy manner. The story touches on cultural bias' and assumptions in a way that is thought provoking and nuanced. She also touches on differences that arise between classes and how those interactions can be perceived by both parties.
What hit me the most was that most of the distress in this book was caused by a severe lack of communication and understanding. As I read, I wanted to yell at the book, "just have an honest conversation!" So much could have been cleared up, but alas, then we would not have a book to discuss. What is reading if it isn't for miscommunication between characters and assumption making.
This book is currently very hot on bookstagram and the blogs. I highly suggest everyone give it a go. Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid would make an incredible book club read. There are so many scenarios and topics that could be delved in as a group. It would make for a great discussion. I gave it ★★★★.5 stars and hearing Reid discuss her book gave me a ton more respect for the craft.