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Book DetailsISBN: 9781526612151
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Book Review: Such a Fun Age: 'The book of the year' Independent by Kiley Reid - Reviewed by CloggieA (23 Nov 2019)
Such A Fun Age is the first novel by American author (and former babysitter), Kiley Reid. Before the late-night incident with her three-year-old daughter at the Market Depot, Alix Chamberlain barely noticed her black babysitter, let alone considered her thoughts or feelings. Emira Tucker was great with Briar, who was exhausting when awake, and Alix, a well-known feminist blogger, was meant to use her break from Briar to write her book. Mostly, she just enjoyed the company of her easy baby daughter, Catherine, and relaxed.
But now, thanks to a panicky call for help from Alix, Emira had been virtually accused of kidnapping Briar by a supermarket security guard. A bystander had caught the whole thing on his phone. Emira was disturbed about the incident, but not for the reasons everyone assumed. And she definitely didn’t want it made public, nor to pursue any legal action.
And suddenly Alix was paying Emira attention: not quite stalking, but surreptitiously invading her privacy. Now, Alix wanted the sort of connection with Emira that her New York girlfriends had with their sitters, and a cancelled flight at Thanksgiving gave her the perfect opportunity to show Emira just how worthy Alix was of a friendship. Dinner with her New York girlfriends and their children. Alix hadn’t reckoned on the boyfriend, though. Who could predict the direction it took from there?
What a marvellous tale Reid gives the reader. No suspension of disbelief is required for what happens, and the characters are entirely credible. Emira is smart and a little sassy, like her friends, but hasn’t settled on what she wants to do with her life and feels the career pressure to decide. She really needs a proper job that will provide health insurance, but she does love looking after Briar.
While the narrative is from two perspectives (Alix and Emira), the toddler plays a significant part: “On her own and at her best, Briar was odd and charming, filled with intelligence and humor.” Briar is relentlessly inquisitive and her questions and pronouncements are truly a delight.
Emira’s friends are a good example of genuinely loyal friends whose support and advice demonstrates their love. Alix’s friends provide support too, but their main concerns come from a different, perhaps less generous, place. The chasm that exists between the white privileged and the coloured less-privileged is deftly illustrated by the priorities that Alix and Emira exhibit, and the way their close friends provide support.
As well as exploring the topics of racism and feminism, Reid’s novel features misogyny and black fetishism, peer pressure and the dynamics of power. There is plenty of humour, some of it quite dark, and the final pages deliver a perfectly wonderful dose of irony. Topical, insightful, thought-provoking and funny, this is an utterly brilliant debut novel from a talented author. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by Better Reading Preview and Bloomsbury Australia. Also by NetGalley and Penguin Group Putnam.
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