Tag Archives: Coming of Age

Review: Such a Fun Age

Such a Fun Age

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.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: The Scent Keeper

The Scent Keeper

The Scent Keeper
By Erica Bauermeister
St. Martin’s Press, 9781250200136, May 2019, 320pp.

The Short of It:

If you’ve ever been fascinated with scent and the memories associated with it, you will enjoy The Scent Keeper.

The Rest of It:

Emmaline and her father live on a remote island in the Pacific Northwest. There, her father collects scents, memories really on little slips of paper that he keeps in wax-sealed bottles. He captures these scents using a special machine of his, one that has always been magical in Emmaline’s eyes.

As Emmaline grows older, she learns that there is more than just life on the island and suddenly finds herself imprisoned by these scents. A collection that holds her father’s attention more than anything else. In a moment of frustration, Emmaline makes a decision that not only affects her place on the island, but her future as well.

I was completely taken with the first half of this novel. I am a scent person. There is always a candle nearby, or a fragrant hand lotion, or perfume or something because certain scents make me happy and I surround myself with them. The first half of this novel was magical to me. The ties between scent and memory really gave me warm, happy feelings. Think about how you feel when you smell warm apple pie or cookies baking in the oven. Lovely, right?

Well, the second half of the novel was quite different. Although it still explored scent, it didn’t do so in the innocent way of memories. It was tied to money and manipulation which for me, was a real turn-off. I realize that the author was probably playing the two experiences off of one another but the story lost its magic when money was brought into it. It added a grittiness that I did not enjoy.

I love this author though. I’ve read three other books by Bauermeister so I am really familiar with her work. The Scent Keeper has a totally different feel than any of her other books so if you are looking for it to be similar you will be disappointed. Personally, I would have liked the second half to go a different way but I am not a bestselling author.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.