This year, for the first time ever, I set myself a Goodreads goal to read 50 books this year (this is obviously with the hope that I’ll read more but we’ll see). So far, I’m five books in having read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Emma by Jane Austen , Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen Living my Best Life by Claire Frost [I’ll post a review of that soon] and now Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid.
Have you ever had a book that you just know, regardless of the finer details, you want to read? Reid’s debut novel, Such a Fun Age, was one of those books. I snapped this book up quickly, thanks to Piglet in Bed (they’re running a Book Club and this was January’s book, which I managed to get for several % off thanks to their code *NOT AN AD, JUST LETTING YOU ALL KNOW ABOUT A BOSS DEAL), and finished it a few days ago.
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, resolves to make things right. But Emira is broke, aimless and wary of Alix’s desire to help.
When she meets someone from Alix’s past, the two women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know….about themselves, about each other, and the messy dynamics of privilege.
Though I knew I wanted to read this book, I didn’t know much about it. I only knew as much as the blurb, or a quick Google search, could provide. I knew it was the story of two different women and one event that changes them (and their lives) for good.
I’m used to the standard YA-stereotype women with their perfect (mainly blonde) hair, gorgeous (mainly white) skin and not very problematic (definitely unrealistic) lives, so it was refreshing to see things a little differently through Emira and Alix.
As someone who is navigating my twenties, and bouncing between loving every minute and wishing I could go back to being a child, it was refreshing to read both women’s points of view. Automatically, we meet Emira and see that she is trying to make ends meet with multiple jobs (none of which she particularly likes very much), and then – when Alix is introduced – we see that she, too, struggles with balancing being a writer, a mother, a wife. I liked that these women were real and flawed, and speaking to a generation of readers in this uncertain world.
I loved the relationship between Emira and Blair, Alix’s eldest daughter, it led to plenty of sweet, heart-tugging moments to contrast the hard-hitting, important themes that the book deals with.
I also liked the way that the book weaved so effortlessly between past and present, enabling the reader to see what leads up to the big moment at the store, even if it did take me ages to figure out that ‘Alix’ and ‘Alex’ were not two different people – it was just different spelling!
It was a surprising one, this book, in terms of romance. I was so convinced, from the moment they met – then meet again, in a very meet-cute way that makes half of us swoon and the other half gag a little bit – that Kelley and Emira were the relationship we were going to follow through the book. Kelley, in fact, is a man in the middle – part of Alix’s past and, it seems, Emira’s future. He wasn’t my favourite character in the book but he was completely necessary for communicating themes of race, white privilege and so on.
I think what this book ultimately communicates (amongst other themes) is that nobody – no matter how brilliant their life, or social media feed, seems – has it all figured out and….you know what?