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.
What a joy to find a debut novel so good that it leaves you looking forward to the rest of its author’s career. With an unfussy, witty voice comparable to American contemporaries Curtis Sittenfeld and Taffy Brodesser-Akner, in Such a Fun Age Kiley Reid has painted a portrait of the liberal middle class that resonates far beyond its Philadelphia setting ... It adds up to a tantalisingly plotted tale about the way we live now: about white guilt and virtue-signalling, but also about the uneven dynamic between domestic staff and their employers ... Unlike Brodesser-Akner, whose debut last year was lent heft by her reputation as a New York Times writer, Reid, 32, is only just emerging into the public eye. Such a Fun Age, however, speaks for itself; I suspect it will turn its writer into a star.