Publication Date: 12/31/2019
Rating: 4.5 / 5
I received a complimentary copy of SUCH A FUN AGE by Kiley Reid for an honest review from Penguin Group Putnam through Netgalley and I was also given an advance listener copy through Libro.Fm. I had seen a few great reviews for this book so I was very excited to have the opportunity to read this one!
SUCH A FUN AGE begins when Emira Tucker, a young babysitter in Philadelphia. She responds to a late night plea from her boss to come and pick up her 2-year-old charge Briar to get her out of the house while the family deals with an unanticipated incident. As something to do Emira takes Briar to the local high end supermarket and out of the blue she is confronted by a customer and a security guard. They can’t imagine that a young black woman like Emira could have any good reason to have a little white girl like Briar and they accuse Emira of kidnapping the little girl. Though Emira handles herself well and is able to quickly get Briar’s father to come and clear the whole thing up, it is an unsettling occurrence.
The rest of the book deals with the aftermath of this incident and the decisions Emira must make about her own future. A bystander caught the incident on film, but agrees to let Emira make the judgement call on whether to release the clip or not. Emira’s boss Alix expresses outrage on Emira’s behalf and showers her with attention and gifts. Emira is struggling to just make a living and a life and move ahead.
I though that SUCH A FUN AGE was very well done and I enjoyed reading it. The setup feels entirely real, sad to say. Emira winds up in a very uncomfortable position due to the prejudice she faces. She loves this little girl and Briar is clearly not unhappy in her present situation, but people see what they want to see. After the incident, Emira winds up caught in the middle as the people around her, all white, urge her to do what is right by releasing the video and/or suing the store.
In addition to Emira’s POV, we get to see into her boss Alix’s mind as well. Alix is used to crafting an image for herself, recreating everything about herself from the pronunciation of her name to identity she presents on social media. Though she’d be the first to claim she made herself, she has lived a life of privilege. After her husband stuck his racially insensitive foot in his mouth on live TV, Alix feels she must go above and beyond to assert that she isn’t racist, she’s a good person and best buds with Emira. She’s convinced in her own mind that she’s only doing what is best for herself and her family, but fails to recognize how over the top she is, completely over compensating.
I really enjoyed Emira as a character and really was rooting for her to find her own two feet and to stand up for herself when it seemed everyone around her claimed to know better what she needed to do. Emira showed a lot of growth through the course of this book and I would definitely classify this as a good coming of age narrative.
In all, I would definitely recommend SUCH A FUN AGE to you! I did most of my reading for this one on audio and I think it was very well done. This book will be published on 12/31/2019, so keep an eye out for it to finish off 2019 and kick off 2020!