Such a Fun Age is a novel about transactional relationships, race, and making the right decisions. Emira is nearly twenty-six, about to lose her health insurance, and works as a babysitter for Alix Chamberlain, a wealthy white woman who built a brand around female confidence. One night, Alix asks Emira to take two-year-old Briar to an upmarket supermarket whilst they deal with a situation at home, but whilst there Emira is confronted by a security guard who thinks Emira has kidnapped Briar. In the aftermath, Emira deals with the fact a bystander filmed the moment and Alix desires to help Emira but doesn’t know how, and things are complicated when Emira meets someone from Alix’s past.
This is a clever novel that looks at the ways interpersonal relationships work and how they can be seen differently by the people involved, using Emira and Alix’s viewpoints to unfold the narrative but also get across the gulf between how they view their lives. Emira is a complex and relatable character, aimless but given purpose by the bond she has formed with Briar whilst babysitting, particular as Alix ignores her eldest daughter in favour of her younger one. This relationship formed of necessary mirrors the way Alix desperately wants to be friend with Emira, all whilst Emira isn’t really aware of this fact. Reid writes the characters and situations carefully to show not only how Alix tries to be a ‘white saviour’, but how Emira views her actions and ultimately uses it to work out what she wants. Summary-style endings can be a let down, but in this case it feels important to cast a look at what happens to the characters after the events of the main narrative.
Such a Fun Age is social commentary with gripping character and a protagonist who you really want the best for, and is being quite rightfully hyped as a book that shines a light on power and race in a fresh, sharp way.
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