Such a Fun Age
By Kiley Reid
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 9780525541905, December 2019, 320pp.
The Short of It:
A slow build but once I got into it it was like a time bomb ready to go off.
The Rest of It:
For once, I read a buzzy book when everyone else was reading it too. Such a Fun Age is making the rounds and getting a lot of praise. It was selected for Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club and although I’ve not read all of her selections, the ones I have read have been really good. This was no exception.
Emira is at a club celebrating with her friends when her boss calls her to ask if she can possibly watch her daughter due to an emergency. One, it’s late. Two, she’s dressed for the club. Three, she’s been drinking. Although she explains this to her boss, the desperation on the other line wins out.
Minutes later, Emira finds herself with three-year-old Briar in an upscale supermarket checking out the nuts, dancing in the aisle, doing whatever it takes to keep the kid occupied while her mother, Alix, tends to her emergency. Just minutes into their visit, they begin to draw the attention of other shoppers. Emira, a young black woman, and Briar, a young white child, wandering the aisles so late at night seems out of place. So much so, that a security guard begins to question her. Emira explains that she is Briar’s babysitter, which is the truth but she knows how it looks. Things escalate. That is where the story begins.
This is one of those slow-build books. Conflict is everywhere but you know something big is coming and as the story plays out, the one word that comes to mind is EXPLOSIVE. This is a book about race but also fetishsizing race, which I thought was interesting.
Two things stood out for me. One, the story is a little gritty. Not overworked or polished which I liked very much. The author did a good job of portraying each character’s POV. None of these characters are perfect and you won’t find yourself siding with any of them. They all play a role in how the rabbit falls down the hole. Two, the portrayal of Briar, the young child seemed a little off. She’s critical to the story but her observations were often not believable to me and they took me out of the narrative at times.
However, there is a lot to think about here and you will find yourself eagerly flipping those pages towards the end because it’s like a train wreck and you can’t possibly look away. I wouldn’t say it was a perfect story but I don’t think it was meant to be.
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
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17 thoughts on “Review: Such a Fun Age”
I started to read this one right at the beginning of the year and then decided I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for it. I think I will be soon. Good to hear your experience with it. I’ve read other reviews that were mixed here and there. Obviously a book that will engender thoughts and ponderings.
I don’t think anyone can say that they loved this book. It’s not that type of read. I did appreciate the complexity of the issues presented. The author took some chances with it and I admire that.
I just finished this and agree with a lot of what you said. Briar’s character was pretty uneven throughout the book. I also thought the coincidence of Alix and Kelley knowing each other the way they did was a little much. I do think the book is thought provoking and would make a great book club selection.
I thought early on that Briar was perhaps special needs but that wasn’t clear. She seemed to have some sensory challenges. Also, when I read anything about Kelley I kept envisioning him as a black man which is interesting because Alix’s point was that he was trying to possibly BE black.
I was a little bothered by her name change. Alex to Alix. So traumatized that she felt the need to change it but she didn’t change it by much. I could also go on and on about stereotypes and how Emira is portrayed in the book but it’s better if people just read it and consider those things themselves.
I started to read this one after I saw you post about it on IG. I had a copy on my kindle so I figured I’d give it a go. I started and then stopped. I just found I could not get into the story. I can see the draw of it, but its just not for me. Glad you enjoyed it so much. I have seen it all over the place lately, so I guess its pretty popular. Truthfully, I never seem to like the “popular” books. Oh well 🙂
I enjoyed it for the questions it raises but it was not a fun read for me. Some of the characters rubbed me the wrong way but it definitely stirred me up and got me thinking.
I don’t read online book club picks…but this sounds interesting and I like slow builds on occasion, especially if they payoff is worth it.
Reese has picked some good ones of late.
I’ve read and loved a few of Reese’s book club picks. I want to listen to this book.
This has been on my TBR; it does sound rather intriguing. (You are on a reading roll for 2020).
I’m on the fence, but would definitely read it if it’s a book club selection. Sounds like it’s discussion-worthy.
I am seeing this on a number of blogs and it sounds intriguing. What an odd premise to call a worker late at night, but it creates so many possibilities.
I hadn’t really considered this one, but you have me thinking maybe I should pick it up. It sounds thought-provoking and one well worth discussing.
I often feel like Witherspoon’s choice lean to the lightweight but it sure doesn’t sound like this one falls into that category!
Of the books I’ve read that Reese has chosen, I’d say all were discussable but some weightier than others. She seems to know when to mix it up.
I’ve been very intrigued by things I’ve heard about this book! I think every reviewer I’ve seen so far has found it very readable, whether they’ve fallen in love with it or not, which is exactly what I’m in the mood for right now.