Such a Fun Age
Such a Fun Age is a book about two women - Emira Tucker and Alix Chamberlain - who couldn’t be more polar opposite. Emira is a young black babysitter for Alix’s eldest daughter, Briar, and is currently juggling two jobs as she struggles to pay rent, keep her healthcare, and decide on her next career move. Meanwhile, Alix Chamberlain is a wealthy white influencer and blogger who battles doubts and insecurities surrounding the seemingly perfect life she lives. When Emira is stopped at a local supermarket for 'kidnapping' the white child she's actually babysitting, her relationship with her employers irrevocably changes. Following the incident, Alix vows to make amends with Emira but her good intentions soon turn obsessive when she begins to seek out a friendship with her babysitter. After reading Such a Fun Age, I honestly didn’t know how I felt about it. I’m not usually someone who writes less-than-positive reviews, especially if the book is a debut. I generally prefer to write about books I have enjoyed because my blog is somewhere I like to keep a positive space and my reviews are more recommendations than they are critiques. It is for this reason that I had to weigh up whether or not I wanted to review Such a Fun Age. Nevertheless, I decided to go ahead with the review because I do have a lot of thoughts about it. Don’t get me wrong, there were parts of this book that I found really inspired and I can completely see why so many people have liked it. There were, however, certain aspects that for me fell flat and in this review, I will explore both of these sides. First off, I loved the premise of this book, it was very original and ‘new age’ through how it dealt with issues surrounding privilege, class and white feminism. I liked that the book had various layers to it: while it focused on race, it also covered a range of other topics including social class, gender, relationships and motherhood. Reading this book, it definitely came across as a reflection of our current times. While addressing some very important topics, the pace of the novel was generally good and it was a fun, easy read that made these themes very accessible. I appreciated Reid’s critique of ‘white saviours’ and how she presented the characters’ desire to ‘help’ as a way for them to gain control or perform their virtue signalling. Everyone in the book seems to know what Emira needs, without ever empathising with her or respecting her agency to make her own decisions. Desperate to convince others and themselves that they do not ‘see race’, the novel’s ‘woke’ white characters fail to recognise the microaggressions they commit. While privilege in itself isn’t a new literary concept, the way Reid explores everyday racial biases within a contemporary American context made the novel extremely apt. In some ways though, I did find the book addressed too many things to really do justice to any of them. I was fine with how the narration alternated between Emira’s and Alex’s voices but found I struggled to connect with either of their stories. The characters seemed so unsure of themselves and clichéd to the point of being lacklustre. Emira was aimless and lacked personality - she seemed more of a vehicle to explore the themes already discussed, rather than a fully fleshed-out character. Similarly, Alix was incredibly entitled and even creepy through how hard she tries to impress Emira. I was also not on board with how the dialogue was used throughout. At times the language fell into stereotypes and the word ‘lit’ was used so often it made me cringe. I think it’s these idiosyncrasies which lead me to believe that this book will not stand the test of time. Simultaneously a comment on racist structures, a romance, a comedy and a bildungsroman, this book tries to be everything to everyone. As a result, it, unfortunately, lacked the depth I’d hoped for from this narrative. Finally, like other reviewers, I was very confused by the ending of this one. I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone who hasn’t read it but, what I will say, is that it definitely did not resonate as strongly as the rest of the book. While I enjoyed not knowing where the book would go next, the end of the text moved so quickly that I wasn’t able to get to grips with what was happening.
Overall, I believe the intentions of this book were there but the delivery fell a little flat. Did I enjoy reading it? Yes. Do I think it’s worth all the hype? Probably not. 6.5/10.