Updated: Jul 16, 2020
Kiley Reid’s Such a Fun Age is both entertaining and thought-provoking. At its heart, this novel is a piece on privilege- class, gender and white. At a time where we have all been questioning our own behaviour as well as others in regards to racism, Such A Fun Age is a call to arms about how we go about this. Reid teaches that just because we can recognise others problematic behaviour that doesn’t make our own acceptable.
When Emira is accused of kidnapping the white child she is babysitting whilst they are on a trip to the supermarket a chain of events is sparked. Her employer Alix tries to reconcile this incident with often awkward consequences. After a connection between the two emerges the women are forced to confront their relationship and the dynamics at play.
What struck me most about Reid’s novel was her portrayal of the subtleties of racism. We have all come to hear of the term micro-aggression over the last few weeks and months, and this is a concept Reid illustrates so well. From Alix asking her Black friend whether she is ‘doing the right thing’ to her congratulating herself for the number of Black people sat around her dinner table at thanksgiving Such A Fun Age perfectly captures that what may seem right to the person committing the action, in fact, reinforces issues surrounding race. Similarly, we see Alix questioning the intent of Emira’s boyfriend Kelley when she finds out he has only dated Black women. Whilst shining a light on the fetishization of Black women, Reid here similarly illustrates that Alix herself isn’t absolved.
The other striking feature of this novel is the focus on class. Although not explicitly explored it is made abundantly clear that Emira is not in the same financial or class bracket as her employer (after all she does work for Alix.) We are not left to ignore that this factor comes into play in their relationship. One of the most interesting aspects of this working relationship is the fact that Emira essentially raises Alix’s daughter Briar. In a world where ‘white feminism’ is sadly so prominent, this is yet another call to arms that our feminism must be intersectional, or it is not feminism at all.
Emira is the breakout star of Reid’s novel. An endearing and hilarious character who we get to see grow and develop with the help of her friend Zara, you can’t help but fall in love with her. Such A Fun Age doesn’t leave her behind in pursuit of meaning, rather we get to see her whole life- her flat, her nights out, her emotions, her friends and in the process, we come to understand her character.
I love this novel. It is at times an uncomfortable read, but it should be. Kiley Reid is making us confront the realities of privilege and the dynamics these may take the form of.