Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, review

A surprising and striking debut novel from a brand new voice, Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid is a big-hearted and page-turning story about race, friendship, and privilege, follows a young black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, as well as a surprising connection threatening to undo them both.

Alix Chamberlain, a mother to two small girls, a woman who gets all she wants, has earned a living and showed other women the way to do the same. She began as a blogger and has built herself quickly into a confidence-driven brand. Therefore, she is shocked when Emira Tucker, her babysitter, is confronted at the same time watching the Chamberlains’ babies one night. Witnessing a young black woman out late with a white baby, their local supermarket’s security guard accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A bystander films everything, a small crowd gathers, and Emira is humiliated and furious. And Alix solves everything to make it right.

However, Emira herself is broke, aimless, and wary of Alix’s desire to help. Twenty-five Emira is going to lose her health insurance and hasn’t any idea what to do with her entire life. When Emira’s video unearths someone from the past of Alix, both two women find themselves on a crash course that is going to upend everything that they think they know about themselves, as well as about each other.

Such a Fun Age, with empathy and social commentary, discovers the stickiness of transactional relationships, the complicated feeling of being a grown up, and the results of doing the right thing for the wrong reason.

Yet to call Such a Fun Age a novel about race is to diminish its considerable powers, since just focusing on race alone is to diminish a human being. It interweaves explorations with astute musings on friendship, love, marriage, motherhood, and more, underlining that there is so much more to us than skin.