Alix Chamberlain is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains' toddler one night, walking the aisles of their local high-end supermarket. The store's security guard, seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make things right.
The title of Kiley Reid's debut, Such a Fun Age, works on so many levels it makes me giddy — and, what's better, the title's plurality of meaning is echoed all over the place within the novel, where both plot and dialogue are layered with history, prejudice, expectations, and assumptions ... a page-turner with beautifully drawn characters and a riveting plot ... This is a book that will read, I suspect, quite differently to various audiences — funny to some, deeply uncomfortable and shamefully recognizable to others — but whatever the experience, I urge you to read Such a Fun Age. Let its empathic approach to even the ickiest characters stir you, allow yourself to share Emira's millennial anxieties about adulting, take joy in the innocence of Briar's still-unmarred personhood, and rejoice that Kiley Reid is only just getting started.
... a bold, urgent, essential exploration of race, class, labor, friendship, identity and self-delusion, both deliciously readable and incredibly complex. This smart, quick-paced novel tracks the fallout and triumphs that follow its characters’ slightest gestures and impulses. Without ever resorting to didactic tones or prescriptive proclamations, Reid portrays the way different bodies are read in public spaces ... each page of Reid’s prose is a faceted prism ... From a craft perspective, Reid’s debut is an exemplar novel: Each character’s voice is perfectly distinct in dialogue; each text message is plausible, powerful. There is humor and not a small amount of suspense. Every element of back story is tied to a relevant future moment ... Not a word is wasted, and not a nuance goes unnoticed in this masterwork.
...novels such as this powerful debut by American author Kiley Reid are integral to society’s understanding of nuanced race dynamics in our time ... Reid excels at dismantling the complicated relationship of mother, child and babysitter and holds the emotional labour of parenting up to the spotlight for fearless scrutiny ... One of the most powerful impacts of this novel is the poignant observation of the explicit but also sometimes more casual, implicit racial discrimination that happens every day and everywhere to people of colour ... The book is unsparing but never didactic in this regard – so masterful is the storytelling that these insights intersect seamlessly with the fast-paced plot, great wit and the scrutiny of the complex interplay between a cast of utterly compelling characters ... Reid is exceptional at recognising and delivering authentic details throughout a narrative that creates such vivid pictures of setting, time and place that every moment of the novel rings true
... In the end, Such a Fun Age delivers on the wave of excited hype that precedes it by offering the reader a book that hits the literary bullseye: a thrilling tour de force of humanity with something important to say. Something that we all need to hear.