***** 5 out of 5 stars!
WHY I CHOSE IT: This book was recommended by whatdamidid, who incidentally has an excellent list of her top books for 2019, during a sunny boat ride in Lagos. When I returned to grey London, after a particularly miserable Monday at work, the bright cover caught my eye in Waterstones and I knew I had to buy it.
THE PLOT: Emira, a babysitter in her late twenties, gets hired by Alix. Although Emira loves looking after Alix’s daughter, Briar, she can’t help feeling as if she should have a “proper” job like her friends.
Alix has the perfect insta-career but inside she’s deeply insecure. She’s recently moved from New York to Philadelphia with her two young girls but misses the city, and her pre-baby lifestyle. Emira is the perfect babysitter and her help allows Alix to cope with the transition. But Alix, who has no friends in Philadelphia (despite growing up there) wants them to be closer.
When Alix has an emergency, she calls Emira to babysit late at night. However, when a security guard doesn’t believe Emira is a babysitter, it causes a chain reaction that Alix never would have anticipated.
MY RATING: It is extremely hard to summarise the plot of ‘Such a Fun Age’, and I certainly haven’t done it justice. It’s a complex novel, which follows Emira and Alix after an incident causes their relationship to change. The primary theme is about race (stereotypes and privilege). For example, Alix thinks she’s taking care of Emira but is really quite patronising. However, it’s more than that – it’s about microaggressions that we don’t even see and intricate relationship dynamics.
It was so much more than I expected and it’s very subtle. Any assertion you think the author, Kiley Reid, is about to make is subverted by the minor characters. Take Alix’s friend Tamra, a successful black woman who backs up all of Alix’s ideas because she also feels it’s her right to instruct Emira on the type of person she should be. Or, Emira’s friends, who are so relatable yet somewhat parodies of black, mixed race and latino culture. And I haven’t even said anything about Kelley…!
So, just read the book. Because I can’t analyse it without spoilers but I wouldn’t want to ruin it for you. You’re just going to have to trust me on this one.