Such a Fun Age @kileyreid @PutnamBooks #debut #race #class #privilege #duoreviews #fictionfriends @JanBelisle @absltmom

Can you possibly see yourself or maybe even a part of yourself in a book that’s a commentary on the way we perceive others? Are we able to recognize the things we thought we knew, the values we thought we had, and receive a bit of a wake up call to the fact that what we are is perhaps hidden within the clues to our altruistic behaviors?

Such a Fun Age

“I don’t need you to be mad that it happened. I need you to be mad that it just like… happens.”

Jan’s review

There are books I read for the pure pleasure of the storytelling and there are books I read to make me think. Occasionally  a book comes along that does both, without it being an “issue book”. This is one of those books.

One of the best way to make a point is through witty satire, through stereotypical characters who are ridiculous, yet compulsively readable.   Taking the biggest hit are the progressive “woke” individuals who are so fearful of appearing racist, so convinced that they aren’t racist, that they lack self-awareness.

Alix (pronounced Ah-Leeks)  Chamberlain is an entitled, progressive, white woman in her 30s who is a blogger and Instagram influencer.  Emira is a  college-educated black woman in her mid-20s, uncertain and confused about what she wants to do with her life. Emira is hired by Alix to babysit her toddler daughter, Briar (who is just the sweetest!).  A defining incident happens early in the book and from there we are given the perspectives of Alix and her privileged friends (who are both black and white), as well as Emira, her friends, and her (white) boyfriend.  

This is so much more than a book about racial bias. It’s about race, yes, but it‘s also about social class, success, parenting, friendship, and the relationship between nanny and the family they work for.  Bias can be subtle. It can be the hubris of thinking you know what is right for others.  Everyone here seems to know what Emira needs, and are so busy “doing good” that they don’t bother to really get to know Emira or her wants and needs. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and it’s never more evident than in this story. 

 A measure of a successful story/book is one that accomplishes what the author sets out to do.  This author avoids the easy solutions and doesn’t tell us what to think. Instead she makes the reader think and examine their own feelings, opinions and actions, which can be uncomfortable indeed. The last line in the book packs quite a punch.

Do yourself a favor and grab a friend or two, and read this book together. It’s a book that begs discussion. I had the good fortune to read this book with Marialyce and Victoria. Our discussions were insightful and thought-provoking, enhancing the experience beyond measure.

This is an amazing debut, and I can’t wait to see what this author writes next.  

*  I received a digital copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review

Marialyce’s review

There are times when a book you thought would soon wind up in the “did not finish” pile turns into not only one you enjoyed but also one that brought some valuable thoughts and feelings into your consciousness. This was one of those books, made even better by discussions that ensued along the way with my book friends, Jan and Victoria.

If you were to rely on the writing, I do think you might be a tad disappointed, However, if you were looking for a book that carried a message, many messages really, than this book would be one to embrace. For in its pages we are asked to question ourselves about many topics. Race perceptions, how we look to another, how we think we feel about ourselves, and that almighty one that so many have, the need to get ahead. Is it fine, in a world so caught in in achieving money and fame, to be ordinary, to not want much, to learn contentment not by achieving the highest positions, but of being assured that what you do is what you want to do and enjoy?

As we travel the sometimes rocky road that Emira seems to be on, we learn that the perceptions we hold, the things we think and see might just not just be off kilter, but be absolutely wrong. In their zeal to be accepted as the perfect progressive people both Alix, Emira’s employer, and Kelley, Alix’s ex boyfriend, now in a twist of fate dating Elmira, seem to strive to not see color, to embrace it, though what they do in reality is to pat themselves on the back continuously for their progressive view of race. In the confrontations that follow we see those who believe themselves to not “see” are often the ones who do see and feed from it.

This quite revealing book was made even better by talking about it for its many nuances that would have been missed by a simple reading. It might be pushed aside as just another foray into how we all see situations in which our perceptions are activated, but it was more than that. Pick up this book if you are at all curious, and better yet, pick it up with a group of friends for it will provide many minutes of worthwhile discussions and a view into your own perceptions and way you view the world we live in.

Thank you to Kiley Reid, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, and Edelweiss for a copy of this thought provoking book.

and here’s the author

Photo by David Goddard

Kiley Reid is a recent graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop where she was the recipient of the Truman Capote Fellowship. She lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Such A Fun Age is her first novel.

5 thoughts on “Such a Fun Age @kileyreid @PutnamBooks #debut #race #class #privilege #duoreviews #fictionfriends @JanBelisle @absltmom

  1. Excellent Marialyce! I truly could not have asked for better reading buddies. I’m so glad we read this together. We had such thought-provoking discussions I’m still thinking about it.

    Liked by 1 person

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