Emira’s world is thrown into chaos one night when, after leaving a party to lend a hand with a babysitting emergency, she is racially profiled and accused of kidnapping the little girl whose family she works for.
I was drawn in from the very beginning of Such a Fun Age, which begins with the distressing and racially spurned supermarket altercation. It was quick to make an impact and I found I was compelled to read on. Kiley Reid’s writing style is super easy going and very humorous whilst still delivering an important overarching message, and as a result I made it through this book very quickly.
Such a Fun Age makes some really interesting explorations into race relations, performative allyship and white saviourism, something which I haven’t yet encountered in many other books.
Alix Chamberlain was very much the villain of the piece for me. I could not stand her, I thought she was a thoroughly detestable character and her obsession with ‘saving’ Emira was more than a little bit problematic, to say the least. I really enjoyed the fact that we often got to read a scene from both Emira’s and Alix’s perspectives, a crossover that allowed us an insight into both of the women’s thought processes. Some of the thinking behind Alix’s behaviour (going through Emira’s phone, inviting her to Thanksgiving and finally, sending herself that email for her own selfish purposes) was completely disjointed and obsessive, and honestly was quite uncomfortable to read a lot of the time.
Alix demonstrated exactly what allyship does not look like, choosing to do what she thought was best for Emira instead of actually talking to her and listening to her needs. It felt like everyone in Emira’s life was making all these extreme comments and assumptions about her experiences of racism apart from Emira herself, and telling her how to act on them. Again, this is not what allyship looks like.
I found Alix’s and Kelley’s behaviour around each other extremely petty, dredging up history from over fifteen years ago and ending up in a sort of ownership battle over Emira. This was the most frustrating part of the book for me, and I really grew to dislike both of these characters the longer it went on.
Emira’s circle of friends and the way they looked after her was one of my favourite parts of Such a Fun Age. I particularly loved Zara, who always heard what Emira was saying and did her best to help her in any way she needed. I also really enjoyed the relationship Emira had with Briar, the little girl who she looked after for most of the book. I would say this book is definitely worth the read purely for the insights into race relations, but it’s also a really fun and empowering story and watching Emira grow into a successful and strong willed woman was an absolute treat.