5 reviews

Such a Fun Age
by Kiley Reid

Published: 2019-12-31
Hardcover : 320 pages
8 members reading this now
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7 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 4 of 5 members

A striking and surprising debut novel from an exhilarating new voice, Such a Fun Age is a page-turning and big-hearted story about race and privilege, set around a young black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising ...
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A striking and surprising debut novel from an exhilarating new voice, Such a Fun Age is a page-turning and big-hearted story about race and privilege, set around a young black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both.

Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living, with her confidence-driven brand, showing other women how to do the same. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains' toddler one night, walking the aisles of their local high-end supermarket. The store's security guard, seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make things right.

But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix's desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix's past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.

With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone "family," and the complicated reality of being a grown up. It is a searing debut for our times.

Editorial Review

An Amazon Best Book of December 2019: Kiley Reid’s debut, Such a Fun Age, will make you uncomfortable, enlighten you, and make you laugh—likely all at once. Emira Tucker is a 25 year-old living in Philadelphia with two part-time jobs (typist and babysitter) and no health insurance. One night the mother of the child for whom she babysits calls upon her in an emergency, and Emira—clad in her “going out” clothes—takes the toddler to a yuppie grocery store, only to be accused of kidnapping by a security guard and fellow shopper. You see, Emira’s employers are white, and she’s African American. The mother, Alix, is embarrassed by this situation and immediately takes the babysitter on as a project (unbeknownst to Emira) and becomes slightly smitten with her. Emira, meanwhile, loves her toddler charge but merely tolerates the mother, whose name she can barely remember. She’s busy navigating her somewhat aimless post-graduation life and trying to figure out how to “adult” before she’s off of her parent’s health insurance at the age of 26. Emira and Alix’s lives, although distinctly different, intersect in a wholly surprising way, raising difficult questions about morality, forgiveness, race, class, and parenthood. switching voices from the mother to Emira’s boyfriend to Emira-the-friend to Emira-the-babysitter, Reid somehow manages to make her writing effortless and authentic. —Sarah Gelman, Amazon Book Review


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Discussion Questions

1. Such a Fun Age is told from the perspectives of two highly differ- ent women: Emira and Alix. How did the narration impact your reading experience? Did you re- late more to one woman than the other? Did that change as you read the novel?

2. After Kelley takes the video of Emira in the grocery store, she asks him not to release it. Did you understand her request? What would you have done if you were in her position?

3. The question of parental vs. pa- rental-figure relationships is piv- otal in this story. How does Briar’s relationship with Emira differ from that with her mother? How do Emira and Alix each relate to Briar in turn?

4. While the “age” in the title re- calls childhood, the novel is very much about Emira’s pivotal age and her experience as a twenty- five-year old learning how to be a grown-up. Talk about some

of Emira’s challenges, as well as her freedoms. How does her experience compare or differ to your own?

5. An unexpected person links Emira and Alix. What was your reaction when you realized the connection? How did it make you view Alix differently? Emira?

6. Kelley is the first to point out the racist accusations against Emira, but at times, he seems to forget they have very different experi-

ences, whereas Emira is always aware of it. Talk about the mo- ments where they don’t seem to communicate well about their specific perspectives.

7. Kelley and Alix have a fraught history. Do you think Alix is right to blame Kelley for many of her issues growing up? Do you think Kelley’s perception of Alix as spoiled and privileged is fair?

8. Alix devotes herself to befriend- ing Emira, but Emira |only sees Alix as her employer. At the end of the day, did you find their relationship to be anything more than transactional? In what ways do each of the woman

try to either maintain or disrupt that boundary?

9. Toward the end of the novel, Alix is confronted with the possibility that she had not acted in Emira’s best interests. Do you think Alix meant well by getting involved in Emira’s situation? Do her inten- tions ultimately matter?

10. The last chapter follows Emira in the years after the incident at the Chamberlains’. In what way did things change, if at all? Did anything you learned about Kel- ley, Alix, or Briar surprise you?

11. There are many uncomfortable, but relatable, moments in Such a Fun Age. In what ways did you see your own experiences reflected in this story? How did you feel seeing them explored through the characters?

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by Sandrine G. (see profile) 12/07/23

by Emily C. (see profile) 11/23/23

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by megan v. (see profile) 08/29/22

by Lucia S. (see profile) 02/24/22

by bea j. (see profile) 11/11/21

  "Excellent story even if the end is rushed"by ELIZABETH V. (see profile) 10/26/21

I admit, I did not expect to like SUCH A FUN AGE. On the basis of its description on the book's flap, I thought it was a book that concentrated on racism, which every-other book seems to be ... (read more)

by Marquita J. (see profile) 10/12/21

by Courteney K. (see profile) 08/28/21

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