Book Review: Such A Fun Age

Kiley Reid’s Such a Fun Age opens with Emira Tucker, a 25-year-old black woman, being called to babysit for the white Chamberlain family during a late-night crisis. Emira takes the Chamberlains’ older daughter, Briar, to the supermarket to distract her from the commotion at home, when she is accused by the store’s security guard of kidnapping the white toddler. After the incident is resolved, two white people in Emira’s life – her employer Alix Chamberlain, and a customer named Kelley who witnessed and videotaped the racist supermarket incident – take it upon themselves to help Emira in whatever way they can.

The book: Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

I had a great time reading Such a Fun Age. The novel is fast-paced and highly readable, with riveting scenes that engrossed me in the way that a TV drama would. I thought the characters were compelling, too; although they weren’t always relatable, I found them complex and believable.

Where Such a Fun Age excels the most to me, though, is in the social commentary and criticism that is packed throughout the story. The book features two well-intentioned white characters (Alix and Kelley) who claim they want to help Emira – yet they both repeatedly subject her to microaggressions, and manipulate her in their attempts to help. By portraying Alix and Kelley as simultaneously well-intentioned and harmful, Reid brilliantly illustrates the concept that good intentions can still be problematic and have damaging effects. Through Alix and Kelley’s actions, Reid also demonstrates how white people can recognize others’ actions as racist, yet fail to see their own racism.

Spoilers in the next paragraph – read at your own risk!

My main complaint about Such a Fun Age is that the drama feels heavy-handed at times. One of the major plot drivers is an unrealistic coincidence where two high-school enemies are reunited as adults when one shows up as a plus-one at the other’s extravagant Thanksgiving party. The novel also ends somewhat abruptly with a dramatic blowout that is being televised in realtime for the local news. These excessively dramatic scenes were only a minor problem for me, though. Drama isn’t inherently bad (in fact, sometimes it’s really entertaining – that’s why soap operas are a thing!), and the over-the-top scenes effectively heightened characters’ inner conflicts and interpersonal tensions.

Ultimately, I really enjoyed Such a Fun Age. I found the novel addictively compelling, and the characters realistically complex. I also appreciated the novel’s blend of entertaining drama and thought-provoking social commentary. I would recommend this book, with the caveat to also read some of the more critical reviews if you’re unsure.

Author: Hannah Celeste

Hi! I'm Hannah, a book-blogger from the Northeastern United States. I enjoy reading many genres, cooking and baking, doing yoga, and spending time with my two cats.

15 thoughts on “Book Review: Such A Fun Age”

  1. I also really enjoyed this book enough to overlook the heavy-handed plotting (even when I saw it coming, that coincidence was really just 🤦🏻‍♀️). I just loved how Reid packs so much social commentary in how she wrote her characters, and the novel made me really reflect on the ways someone like myself with good intentions can unintentionally harm or offend people whose backgrounds and cultures I’m not a part of. Great review! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I thought that scene where Emira’s friend jumps onto the news was so cringe-worthy. She’s this boss of a woman who negotiates Emira a much better job and what type of benefits vs. pay makes it worth Emira’s time, etc. And then she jumps on TV and becomes this stereotype of a….I dunno….she seemed like she partying in a club despite being a professional woman that everyone can see on TV, including her own employers? It just didn’t fit for me.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I am so glad you enjoyed it, I’ve seen somewhat mixed reviews. Overly dramatic scenes, soap opera style, really don’t to it for me. Of course, it depends on how frequent and how dominant they are, whether they will ruin my reading experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great review! I have a review of this one coming up this week as well, and had many of the same things to say about it. I was glued to the drama even though I agree it does feel exaggerated in places. I’m glad the Booker finally motivated me to pick this one up, although I am still somewhat surprised to see it on that list… Anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed this one too! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Hannah,

    As usual, I’m behind on my email . . . but really enjoyed your review on this book as I’ve been curious about it. But when I clicked on your comment link, I got an error message saying that page couldn’t be found. Same thing with the “see all comments” link. Thought you’d want to know.

    I’m currently listening to the audio version of Isabel Wilkerson’s “Caste: the Origins of Our Discontents” and your comments about the blindness of well-intentioned but ingrained racism really echo the theme of her book. It’s fascinating.

    Cheers, – Jan M Flynn >

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for letting me know Jan! I accidentally published this post too early, then changed it back to a draft, and published when it was ready — I suspect that may have something to do with the error.

      It’s been really eye-opening to learn about the ways in which our ingrained racism influences us – even when we don’t think it does! I’ll have to look more into “Caste” – it sounds fascinating.

      Liked by 1 person

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