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Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid - Review

Thursday, June 10, 2021

I had seen a lot of hype around this book, so when I was in Waterstones the other day (which was lovely, although being in Meadowhall when so much was shut was kind of sad) I bought it. It was on buy one get one half price which I always end up buying! 

So, at the beginning of this book, 25 year old Emira is out celebrating the birthday of one of her friends, when her employer, Alix Chamberlain, calls her. Emira is a sitter for Alix's eldest daughter, Briar. There's been some emergency at the Chamberlain house, and the police are on their way, and Alix doesn't want Briar to see them. So she asks Emira to take Briar quickly. Emira agrees, mostly needing the promise of double pay, and goes over, even though she's in her party dress and has had a couple of drinks (both she and Alix agree this is fine by the way, it's not a judgement!) Emira takes Briar to a local supermarket, where a security guard then stops her and asks if she - a black woman - has kidnapped the white child. Emira explains who she is, and eventually calls Briar's dad, Peter, to come and explain the situation. 

While all this is happening, a white man, Kelley, is filming the whole exchange between Emira and the security guard. He and Emira keep in touch, and Kelley wants her to take the video viral to point out how she was racially profiled while just doing her job. Emira refuses to do that, wanting to just move on with her life, but the two start dating. Kelley is a few years older than Emira, and has a lot of black friends. He lives a privileged life, which does cause friction between the two of them. 

Meanwhile, Alix is mortified by what happened to Emira and, suddenly aware of her white privilege, determines to make friends with Emira. Emira babysits three days a week so that Alix can go and do writing, which is her job. She is a blogger/influencer, who got famous writing letters in New York. She then had two babies in quick succession (Catherine is a few months old) and the family moved to Philadelphia. Alix feels out of the loop and past it, even though she's only in her early 30s. She has three friends back in New York that she relies on. She starts stalking Emira's phone, working out where she'll be and who with. She is just generally like a pushy white lady, but she comes off as a lot older than thirty three and a lot older than Emira. 

Emira's three friends all seem to be doing better than her, and she's got no idea what she wants to do for a living. She doesn't have much money, unlike her rich friend Shaunie. She feels pressure from her friends to get a 'real' job, and she needs better benefits than she currently has, but she adores Briar. Briar is painted as a bit of a weird kid, but she definitely really loves Emira. She strongly feels that she's not her mother's favourite, and that Catherine is, which does make Emira and the reader feel sorry for her. I actually think Briar is coded autistic, but that could just be me. 

Anyway, it turns out that Alix and Kelley used to date, in high school, and that they broke up in a very public way. Each of them has their own idea about what exactly happened between them, and honestly.... There's some grey area there. Neither of them is a particularly nice person, they both deserve bad things to happen to them on some level... and I wasn't very sympathetic to either of them in their break up. Alix has a lot of monetary privilege - although it's never explained what actually happened to her parents - and Kelley does fetishise black people and black culture. 

I like Emira. I wanted her to succeed. I thought the book was a bit protracted towards the end. I'm giving this a three and a half out of five. 

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