From the publisher:
AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A REESE’S BOOK CLUB x HELLO SUNSHINE BOOK PICK
A striking and surprising debut novel from an exhilarating new voice, Such a Fun Age is a page-turning and big-hearted story about race and privilege, set around a young black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both.
Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living, with her confidence-driven brand, showing other women how to do the same. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler one night, walking the aisles of their local high-end supermarket. The store’s security guard, seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make things right.
But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix’s desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.
With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone “family,” and the complicated reality of being a grown up. It is a searing debut for our times.
This debut novel came roaring out of the gate and hit the NY Times bestseller list at #3, shocking for a first novel. It also made pretty much every “must-read for January” list and the reviews have been exceptional. When a book gets that much hype, it automatically moves to the top of my to-be-read list, and I get a little anxious – it seems rare for a book to live up to such high expectations. But this book certainly met my expectations, even exceeded them. And the Iowa Writers’ Workshop hatches another amazing writer.
The basis of the plot is not a new story. A young black woman, Emira, helps out her employer by taking Briar, their precocious toddler, to the grocery store late one night as the white parents need to deal with a police matter at home. Briar and Emira are having fun when a white woman summons the security guard. They are suspicious and basically, kidnapping assumptions are made. A young man is nearby and films the transaction, which isn’t resolved until Emira calls Briar’s father to come explain who she is and why she has Briar.
Reid took this oh-too-familiar story and turned it on its head by making the babysitter the protagonist. While the story shifts viewpoints from time to time, there is never any doubt that this is Emira’s tale to tell. And that change in perspective means everything.
Emira is a struggling 25-year-old. She’s not sure what she wants to do in life and she’s just floating along, barely making ends meet with two jobs, as a babysitter and as a typist for the Green Party office in Philadelphia. She still has a lot of growing up to do, but she has reached the point in her life where at least she realizes that. Being dropped from her parents’ health insurance is right around the corner. Her friends are getting promotions and working in jobs they love. Emira isn’t quite there yet, although she knows she loved Briar and that she is a good babysitter, she realizes she needs more than that.
Briar’s mom, Alix, has an interesting backstory that is slowly revealed as we get to know her. Then Alix invites Emira to bring her boyfriend and come for Thanksgiving dinner. Alix’s friends from NYC will be there, lots of people, kids, food, but that is where everything in the story comes to a head.
Several twists in this story really make it move, so it is a quick read. But more importantly, it is a thought-provoking read. Themes of racism and class are diffused through the book, with cringe-worthy moments and some humor as well. This is a book that will stay with me for a while, there is a lot to think about. An excellent debut worthy of all the praise that has been heaped upon it. I’m just piling on here.
I’m truly not the only one who was blown away by the book:
#1 Indie Next Pick
#1 LibraryReads Pick
Amazon Best Book of December 2019
The New York Times‘ 10 Books to Watch for in January
USA Today‘s 5 Books Not to Miss
Vogue‘s Best Books of Winter
Elle‘s Best Books of 2020 So Far
Marie Claire‘s 10 Best Books of Winter 2019
Real Simple‘s Most Anticipated Books of 2020
O, The Oprah Magazine’s Best Books to Read this January
People‘s Book of the Week
Glamour‘s Best Books of 2020 (So Far)
Vulture‘s 32 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2020
New York Post‘s Best Books of the Week
theSkimm‘s Reads Picks
Parade‘s Most Anticipated Books of Early 2020
Good Housekeeping‘s Best Books of 2020
PopSugar‘s 22 Best Books of Winter
SheReads‘ Most Anticipated Books of 2020
Refinery29‘s 11 Books to Stay Inside With This Winter
Domino‘s What to Read This Winter
E! Online‘s Best Books of 2020
Fast Company‘s December Books to Check Out
Book Riot‘s December 2019 Book Recommendations
Chicago Review of Books‘ Best Books of December
The Millions‘ Most Anticipated of December
Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of January
BookPage‘s Most Anticipated Fiction of 2020
Bookish‘s Best Books of December
LitReactor‘s Best Books of 2019
SUCH A FUN AGE by Kiley Reid. G.P. Putnam’s Sons; Reissue edition (December 31, 2019). ISBN 978-0525541905. 320p.