Sunday 2 February 2020

Such A Fun Age | Kiley Reid #USfiction

I had no intention of reading Such A Fun Age. The premise sounded mildly appealing/interesting:
When Emira is apprehended at a supermarket for 'kidnapping' the white child she's actually babysitting, it sets off an explosive chain of events. Her employer Alix, a feminist blogger with the best of intentions, resolves to make things right. 
But Emira herself is aimless, broke and wary of Alix's desire to help. When a surprising connection emerges between the two women, it sends them on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know – about themselves, each other, and the messy dynamics of privilege.

But really, I'm rather over the whole adulting trope with a world peopled by no-one but twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings. Yet it was hard to completely resist the buzz surrounding the release of this book.

It was everywhere.

Then a colleague read it and came back with a surprisingly good reaction, so I decided to turn Such A Fun Age into a lunch time read.

It's the perfect pick-up, put-down book, ideal as a holiday read or a complete change of pace between your usual fare.

While the dynamics were initially quite tantalising, not being quite sure in which direction this story was going to go, it quickly settled into a book about other people's self-made dramas. The only likeable characters were Emira, the babysitter, and the toddler, Briar. They had some genuinely awkward moments to contend with, but they just got on with life and didn't make a fuss. They didn't spend their time over-thinking every action and reaction, they just got on with having a mutually heart-warming and caring relationship.

Everyone else was pretty annoying. Alix and her friends were ghastly, Emira's friends were tiresome, the husband was a non-event, the children accessories and the boyfriend, Kelley was just creepy.

Class privilege, racial and gender issues bubbled away behind the scenes but were never really resolved. Perhaps there was more actually going on here that an American reader would pick up on, but I simply got weary of all the talk about clothes and hair and social media status. But maybe I'm just showing my age!

There was some interesting stuff about memories, personal bias and how we perceive ourselves compared to how others actually see us, but since no-one really rose above their stereotype it was hard to know what to make of it all. It's this more than anything that leaves me feeling disappointed. A world peopled by no-one but more people of the same age is ultimately dull and an unhealthy place to be. It felt much like watching an episode of a more ethnically diverse Friends.

Don't get me wrong. Reading this book was a tremendous romp and if I'd been lying on the beach as I did so, it would have been perfect! It's only as I've started to think about it more deeply to write this post, that I see how fluffy and flawed it is. But then, not every single book has to be high literature. Some books are just for fun, at any age.


  1. Yes, I have my doubts about reading this one, but am probably not going to be able to resist the temptation.

    1. It really is a lot of fun to read Marina. It kept me guessing throughout the first half - I wasn't sure if it was going to be a viral video/pubic shaming story, a #metoo story or a creepy stalker story.
      I'll be curious to hear what other bloggers have to say.

  2. I've been on the fence about reading this one. I do like stories that keep me guessing but sometimes I get impatient with ditzy or annoying characters.

  3. I've been curious about it but after this review, Brona, I am not. It's so tiring, these books made a propose to bring to the front what's already our "reality". I know not all books have to be literature, hahaha, but my picks (and I know that yours) are mostly lit. I like my books be those that shape, toss and turn my views, and when I pick entertaining, I usually pick up books set in a context different than my reality.

    But years from now, if I see it for a dollar on the sale rack, I may pick it.

  4. I read this in December and I have to say I really liked it. I felt it had a lot to say about race, motherhood and privilege, told in an engaging and perhaps "lighter" way but it certainly gave me a lot to think about. I kind of classed it with The Hate U Give and An American Marriage as a readable book with big underlying themes. I didn't feel the characters were all the same age demographic and certainly weren't in the same place in life, however I do agree on the best characters. I liked Emira's best friend, too, though.

    1. I agree with all you've said here Liz. It really was a fun, thought-provoking and uneasy read. I think my issue was reading it 2 mnths down the track from you, after all the online buzz had seeped into my consciousness. My expectations were inflated by the time I got to it.

      It is odd, but when I read this book, I really enjoy it; there were times when I could barely put it down, but then when I went to write this post, I could only come up with all the things that bugged me! I kept thinking the book was going to go in a certain direction, and it didn't, for which I was grateful, but then I wasn't really sure where it did go. Perhaps I'll recommend it for my book group?

    2. Oh I think it would be a great book group read!


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