Tag Archives: Racism

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: A Good Neighborhood

A Good Neighborhood

A Good Neighborhood
By Therese Anne Fowler
St. Martin’s Press, 9781250237279, March 10, 2020, 320pp.

The Short of It:

Absolutely riveting.

The Rest of It:

I wanted an excellent book to kick-off 2020 and let me tell you, A Good Neighborhood was just that.

The story is set in a North Carolina neighborhood that has some history behind it but is in the midst of modernization. Old, beautiful homes being razed for sparkly new homes, and the types of residents you’d expect with such flashiness. Two homes, next to each other have their own stories. One, old and beloved by Valerie and her son Xavier. The other, flashy and new, owned by Brad, his wife Julia and their two children, Juniper and Lily.

One black family. One white. Although one has a little more money than the other due to some opportunistic business dealings, the other is well-educated and well-respected in the community. But when Valerie’s grand oak tree begins to show signs  of distress due to all the construction that her neighbor authorized, tensions rise and when Juniper, a white girl, falls in love with Xavier, the tension really ramps up.

This is a timely story of how one thing leads to another and how race can’t help but get in the way. The way the story is told is from an observer’s point of view, so we know early on that something horrible happens to one if these families and although we see hints here and there of how the story will play out, the ending still packs a punch. I finished this book late at night and I was so affected by the storytelling that I had to sit there for many minutes to compose myself.

This is a tragic story and will break your heart in so many ways but it’s so well done. It gives you much to think about. It would make an excellent book club read and I want everyone to read it.

I should note that the book comes out in March, so pre-order it now or request it from your library and once you read it, let me know because you will need to discuss it.

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