Black Author, Books, Contemporary, Debut Author, Fiction

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid is a debut contemporary novel with deep character studies in a small package

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Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
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My rating: 4 of 5 stars (4.25 rounded down to a 4)

Such a Fun Age is Kiley Reid’s debut novel. The book was published in 2019 and is 310 pages. I read this really quickly, even compulsively, in less than 24 hours. I don’t read a lot of contemporary fiction, but this really sucked me in! The prose is very easy to read even though it takes us through multiple deep character studies. The majority of the characters in the book felt very fleshed out to me.

The book has two main point of view characters. Alix is a wealthy blogger and mother with two daughters under 3 years old, recently moved from NYC to Philadelphia. Emira is a college graduate about to be booted from her parents’ health insurance who isn’t sure what she wants to do for the rest of her life, but for now is a part-time babysitter for Alix. One night, while watching Alix’s toddler Briar during a family emergency, Emira is confronted in their local high-end supermarket by a rent-a-cop who thinks she kidnapped the child. A bystander records a video of the incident. Alix and the bystander both want to Do Something about what happened, but Emira just wants to continue to live her life and forget about it.

This book has a lot of heart to it, though its focus lies on race and privilege. It also plays a lot with perception, especially how different people perceive the same exact event and how much that can be different based on each individual’s background. There are just so many layers of problematic thinking that happens between the characters in this book. I felt a kinship with Emira, who seems happy to just live a simple life even though she’s being pressured on all sides to “grow up” and become “more adult” by finding a career and climbing the corporate ladder.

The ending felt a bit too abrupt; it felt like an afterthought tacked onto a book that otherwise really resonated with me.

CW: fatphobia, fetishization, micro-aggressions, racism, sexism

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