Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid is a socially relevant story
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Genre: General Fiction
Published 2019, 310 pages
The brief synopsis of the story is that Emira, a 20-something young black woman living in Philadelphia, is working a couple of jobs and struggling to make ends meet. One of her jobs is as babysitter for Briar, the toddler of a white professional couple. One night when Emira and Briar are in a store, she is challenged by security and accused of kidnapping the toddler. The whole interaction is filmed on a cell phone which Emira does NOT want released.
The rest of the story didn't really unfold the way I would have guessed. It's a fairly slow but interesting development of the characters of Alix (the white mom) and Emira, the somewhat aimless babysitter. There's some exploration of Alix's lack of job direction after the birth of two girls and leaving NYC for Pennsylvania. She attempts to regain some of her self worth by deciding to befriend Emira after the store incident.
Emira is floating, a little unhappily, through her life - we meet her girlfriends, all with more steady and "adult" jobs than her. Then she randomly meets the white guy who filmed the store incident, they start dating, and when she takes him to dinner at Alix's house, there's a surprising twist to the story. The taped incident comes to light against Emira's wishes, and that changes several circumstances.
Overall, I felt like the book tried a bit too hard. Alix was TOO eager to befriend a much younger black woman; Emira was TOO stereotypically a black young woman; the friends of both Alix and Emira were too cardboard stereotypes as well. But that doesn't take away from the situations posed and the results of all the cumulative actions.
Book Club Pick
Reese Witherspoon chose Such A Fun Age as her book club pick for January 2020. I can see why she selected it - it's a current story; it's relevant to today. There's lots to unpack and digest and would suggest it to other book clubs wanting a racially focused or a contemporary look at a societal situation.
I listened to this on my commute and found the voicing really well done, from the professional tone of Alix to the 20-something slang used between girlfriends; the only jarring voice was the one for Briar, the toddler....it was too adult and bland. Luckily she didn't have much to say.
Have you read Such a Fun Age? (not sure about that title - I don't get how it ties in except pretty tangentially) What did you think? Do you enjoy contemporary novels like this one?
Reading Challenge: #PopSugar20 #15 and #21: published in the month of my birthday (December); involving social media