Preview Reviews: Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Preview Reviews: Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid

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, a feminist blogger with the best of intentions, resolves to make things right.
When a surprising connection emerges between the two women, it sends them on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know – about themselves, each other, and the messy dynamics of privilege.

Read to see what our Preview readers thought:

Such a Fun Age is intriguing, and not at all what I was expecting. Kiley Reid plays with the intersection of race, class and power insightfully, weaving social commentary through dialogue and imagery. Her characters are real and honest and imperfect, and this is what draws the reader to them. Despite featuring strong female lead characters, Such a Fun Age is far removed from chick lit, although a superficial classification of the novel might result in it ending up in this genre. That would be a shame – it would be wasteful to pigeonhole such a gem. One of the real delights of Such a Fun Age is the jolt of surprise when, having immersed oneself in the lives of Alix or Briar or Emira, or all three, as does happen, a wee nugget of information is ever so casually dropped into the storyline that may or may not connect them. And the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle, the events that influence the direction one’s life takes, start to fall into place. Such a Fun Age deserves to be savoured. It tugs at your emotions, at times forcing the reader to question their own behaviours, at other times eliciting laugh-out-loud joy. – Teena, WA, 5 stars

Such a Fun Age is a brilliant, powerful novel about racism and privilege. The story focuses on Emira, who is employed by Alix to babysit her three-year old daughter, Briar. Late one night, at Alix’s request, Emira takes Briar to a local supermarket where she is detained by security due to prejudicial beliefs about a black woman being out alone with a white child late at night. The consequences of that night are the focus of the book. The author did a fantastic job of writing a compelling story, that so perfectly communicated issues around racism and privilege in society. Such a Fun Age is not just an interesting story, it is an important and thought-provoking read. I really enjoyed reading about Emira and Briar, and their beautiful bond. For me, Alix and Kelley were less likeable but this worked really well in the context of the book, as it brought great depth to the novel and perfectly portrayed the issue of white people purportedly advocating for equal rights but in reality making the issue more about themselves and their own needs. I absolutely loved reading this amazing book. – Amanda, QLD, 5 stars

Such a Fun Age is a thought-provoking, easy-to-read and enjoyable debut novel that would make a great book club read. It explores issues of race, social status, family and relationships in an approachable and entertaining way and at a great pace that you want to keep turning pages. A novel that I believe will be a hit in 2020. – M Manalo, NSW, 5 stars

Such a Fun Age is a raw, confronting and compulsively readable book by a fresh new voice. I can’t wait to see what else Kiley Reid creates. Highly recommend this- perfect to get lost in over the summer holidays. – Erin, QLD, 4 stars

Alix Chamberlain is a rich online influencer and feminist speaker. She is trying to land a job on the Hilary Clinton campaign. She employs Emira Tucker, a 25 year old black college graduate to babysit her three year old daughter Briar. Emira uses the babysitting to supplement her typing job. She quite enjoys looking after the inquisitive three year old but both jobs are seen as temporary while she decides what to do with her life. The story is told from the perspective of both Emira and Alix and while it was an easy fun read it brought up some relevant issues concerning race, class, white saviour complex and do-gooders who think they know what is best for everyone else. Kiley Reid addresses these issues with a light tone and sensitivity These tough topics are interspersed with touching interactions between Emira and her charge Briar. These were quite heart-warming to read. I am certain this book will be much talked about when it is released. It would make a great book club read. – Veronica, NSW, 4 stars

Thought provoking, wished things would have ended differently, well written – Lynette, NSW, 3 stars

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid provides a thought provoking glimpse into the complexities surrounding racial relationships. Reid’s characters are juxtaposed to emphasise their differences, however upon deeper examination, they challenge typical stereotypes and highlight the dangers of making assumptions based on race alone. There is a distinct irony present on behalf of the white characters through their efforts to appear “less racist”, which in fact only serve to counteract their efforts due to their focus on difference. This book provides an excellent microcosm of the injustice and prejudice that still exists in our modern world – social commentary at its finest. Thank you Better Reading for the advanced copy and the opportunity to review this text. – Sarah, VIC, 4 stars

A young black American graduate woman, Emira, is drifting aimlessly while she figures out what to do with her life but struggling to cover her monthly living expenses with a part time gig babysitting for a white middle class woman, Alix, and aware she needs to get a “proper job” soon with health care benefits. Alix is a successful “brand” in her own right, married with two young children, a three-year-old toddler Briar and a young baby Catherine. Both have a group of supportive female friends around them. However, late one night Emira is unexpectedly called on to take Briar to a nearby supermarket whilst Alix and her husband deal with a household issue which has developed after Alix’s husband made a ill-judged ad lib comment on television. Emira, dressed for a night out and somewhat merry, is then accused by the security guard of kidnapping Briar. The resulting altercation is captured on video by a white male passerby and both this video and the man become important to the rest of the book. This is an engaging contemporary debut novel largely about race, but one not written in a heavy-handed manner, from an author to watch. Thanks Better Reading! – Pamela, VIC, 5 stars

This book has been all over social media lately, so I was excited to receive an advanced copy to review. Whilst I’m not sure it meets the hype for me personally, I did find the theme(s), characters and their dialogue throughout the book kept me reading with interest. Overall an enjoyable story that I know will be talked about in 2020! Thanks! – Jennifer, WA, 3 stars

Not the usual type of book I would read but none the less enjoyable. Race, class and education were the themes that shone through. – Alanna, TAS, 3 stars

Be prepared for Such a Fun Age to be one of THE books of 2020. What a debut novel from Kiley Reid! I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this book, but wow was I surprised and in a great way. Reid has delivered a timely storyline that is as important as it is addictively immersive to read. Reid has dealt with a number of societal issues in a way that delivers an unputdownable read which is not to heavy yet still has a tremendous impact and keeps you thinking long after you have finished it. I feel this is The Hate U Give but for those about 10 years older. – Mel, NSW, 5 stars

Such a Fun Age is Kiley Reid’s debut novel. Her contemporary writing style and language choices draw the reader into the worlds and homes of Emira Tucker and Alix Chamberlain. Emira appears to be a directionless young woman juggling two jobs and struggling to afford the social life of her accomplished friends. By contrast Alix is a confident, wealthy business woman with a perfect family and strong friendship circle. The turning point in the novel occurs when Emira is wrongly accused of kidnapping Alix’s daughter, Briar. This event was filmed by Kelley Copeland who, coincidentally, was a dark figure from Alix’s past. As Alix and Kelley help Emira navigate her way through the aftermath of this incident, cracks in their perfect world are revealed and pried open. **Redacted due to potential spoilers** Long after finishing the last page I am still wondering, which is the fun age; the sometimes listened to toddler, the aimless twenty something or the torn parent? Reid will keep you pondering this long after you finish reading. – Kirralee, SA, 3 stars

Loved loved loved it – Sally, VIC, 5 stars

Such a Fun Age is a clever take on the issues of race and class in America in 2019. The dynamics between Emira, Alix and Kelley are fascinating as they unfold and the author cleverly interprets the events from each persons point of view. The twists in plot keep you turning pages quickly, a thoughtful but fun holiday read! – Chloe, ACT, 5 stars

Such a Fun Age was an easy read from start to finish. You can’t help but absorb yourself in “likeable” Emira’s story. Emira works for the at times complicated Mrs Chamberlain and her daughter Briar. One night at the supermarket changes the story and unravels a chain of events that is carried throughout the story. I enjoyed the storyline of the book in particular Emiras close relationship with her biggest support – her girl gang. The ending left me feeling happily wistful **redacted due to potential spoilers**. – Jude, SA, 4 stars

SUCH A FUN AGE – KILEY REID – I seem to be out there on my own not liking this book.  I was so pleased to receive an advanced copy from Better Reading feeling this was going to be a great read.  Unfortunately I was unable to connect with this – I found it slow, the characters were under developed and unlikeable. The connection between Alix and Kelley was unbelievable and there could have been such a better road to explore.  Emira seemed only half a character even though she was the main one. What had the bases for a terrific engaging story,  for me just did not deliver.  Sorry to say I really struggled to finish this book. – Debbie, VIC, 2 stars

Such a Fun Age examines issues of race, class, privilege and entitlement through the relationship of a rich successful woman and her daughters’ babysitter. It is also a social commentary on modern relationships and finding one’s place in the world and is quite thought provoking. At almost 25, Emira has a couple of part time jobs but loves babysitting her favourite human, the inquisitive 4 year old Briar until one night when she is accused of kidnapping her. Her employer Alix is a self made, outwardly confident, blogging feminist public relations queen who likes to be seen doing “the right thing”. It was hard to engage with the characters as the voice of the novel is distinctly American and I had nothing in common with any of the protagonists. Having said that I was drawn in to the story, as their worlds began to collide and Alix is forced to confront some painful truths of her past. This book would be a good subject for book clubs as I am sure the story would lead to some spirited debate as every reader would have a unique take on the issues raised. – Janelle, NSW, 4 stars

A complex story of love, and race. – Fi, VIC, 3 stars

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book. Although it contains some heavy topics, like racism and betrayal, it was still, surprisingly, a light and enjoyable read. I loved the character of Emira and throughout the book found myself being able to like and identify with her on different levels. The more I read, the harder I found it to put the book down – even wanting more from it when it ended (although I still felt that it ended satisfactorily). I’m looking forwarding to more books from this author and give this book 4 1/2 stars – Susan, NSW, 4 stars

Affluence, race, power and privilege are all explored in Such a Fun Age. Strong characters and themes abound. My favourite character was the small child, Briar, who captured my heart with her vulnerability. – Kelly, QLD, 4 stars

Thank you for allowing me to review this book. The themes of power dynamics and race were interesting and the characters intriguing particularly Emira who came into her own and found her confidence and strength at the end of the novel. I thought the author wrote well however I felt that the story fell flat until the last part. I also found the title a little odd. All in all an ok read. – Danielle, VIC, 2 stars

This story had me hooked from a few pages in and kept me up late into the night. Told from multiple perspectives that are both worlds apart and somehow totally truthful, this is a fantastic exploration into the varying degrees of privilege. An honest and insightful read! – Lyndal, VIC, 4 stars

Sadly, I have to say that I found “Such a Fun Age” to be anything but fun. I was enticed by the marketing blurb for the book and expected an interesting read about the issues of race and class which are very evident in American society.  Disappointingly, I found the book to be very hard to get into – the covering topic was reached within the first chapter, and from there we were introduced to shallow characters and a pointless storyline which failed to entice me to turn the page.  After several attempts to read this book in the end I gave up. – Jane, NSW, 1 star

Wow I loved this book I couldn’t put it down it was well written and the characters felt so real. I feel as if I grew along side Emira as she learnt and grew in herself and grew to know what she wanted. Also the hardships she had to face in her life because of her skin color and race you felt as if you faced them with her. I could see what the characters looked like and could imagine their personalities as I was reading. I would so recommend this book to Everyone to read. – Beth, TAS, 5 stars

In the mix are a thirty-three year-old feminist blogger, a twenty-five year-old black baby sitter, a cute but demanding three year-old girl, a tall, fine-looking boyfriend, a racist incident in a supermarket, and two very different versions of the same high-school romance. Throw it all together at a Thanksgiving dinner, sprinkle with loyal friends, food and alcohol as desired, and wait for sparks to fly. Topical, insightful, thought-provoking and funny: an utterly brilliant debut novel. – Marianne, NSW, 5 stars

Thank you to Better Reading #BRPreview for the opportunity to review this book. Such a Fun Age was a wonderful book to read with interesting characters that kept you drawn to each page. Emira is a young 20 something year old black nanny who has her life changed one eventful night. We follow Emira’s relationship with her employer, friends and potential new love. Beautifully written and with realistic dialogue. – Nektaria, VIC, 5 stars

This is a story about race prejudice and stereotype with well developed characters. It’s a bit slow in the beginning but the pace picks up quickly making it hard to put this book down. – Vivi, NSW, 4 stars

Kiley Reid’s Such a Fun Age is a fabulous debut novel grounded in racial politics and modern day society. Funny yet sobering, Emira’s challenge is to find her own way in the world, despite the strong and often uninvited opinions foisted upon her. My favourite character was Emira’s charge 3 year old Briar, who is quirky, spirited and fiercely authentic. A deeply thought-provoking read that is delivered through an engaging narrative. Highly recommended. – Imogen, VIC, 5 stars

Interesting twists to keep you involved – Sally, VIC, 4 stars

Such A Fun Age is hard to read without re-examining your own interactions with people of other races. An entertaining drama, this is also a sharp commentary on how race inevitably affects relationships. This is a sharp and incisive novel. Reid presents strongly believable characters, and lures the reader to invest in their stories. It is this strong characterisation, and the relationships, which provide the main engine for the novel – but it’s a powerful engine, making this both hard to put down and hard to forget. In some ways this is a very American book. There is a particular history between white and black people in the US which affects today’s culture; the employment environment is very specific also. However, it has things to say to us too. Our history with Indigenous Australians may be very different, but it’s still infused with racism and incorrect assumptions, and those things still affect us today. This is a very strong novel – it’s entertaining, with a lot of material for thought. It’ll stay with you for a long time after you’ve read it. And hopefully, it will make you think about how you treat people who look different to you. Highly recommended. – Lorraine, ACT, 5 stars

This was a fun book to read, Emira a 25 year old is a baby sitter for Alix and Peter she is still trying to sort her life out, her friends Zara Shaunii and Josefa are all great characters part 3 of this book is brilliant – Deborah, NSW, 5 stars

This novel was a very disappointing read. I kept waiting for something exciting to happen but whilst the build up was there, the execution didn’t exist. Half the language that was used in the novel, I didn’t understand and the characters, especially Alix, Emira and Kelley annoyed my greatly. This novel could have been so much more, but it really was a disappointment – Kirstie, WA, 1 star

An edgy novel that explores racism and stereotypes and different classes. I loved the relationship between Emira and her best friends, and how the storey exposes the subconcious stereotyping of Emira by the people in her life who profess to care. A thought provoking read – Rachel, QLD, 5 stars

The opening chapter hits the ground running; it makes you angry about the climate of our culture and the absurdity of the way in which we cast judgement on others. After this, the book immediately slows down as the characters are delved into further, but picks up and becomes a page-turner for the second half. Racism is all around us and this book highlights the obvious and subtle ways it manifests within society. It’s highlighted just how differently each of us can experience the same situation and how we carry those experiences with us throughout our lives. We can see multiple sides of the same story and understand how the characters developed from them and ultimately feel righteous in “helping” someone seemingly stuck in the middle. Motivations are blinded, relationships are torn apart and there’s an underlying sadness permeating the relationship between babysitter and child. And the child, by the way, was my favourite character. She’s unique and charming and kept me giggling from the way she interacted with the world.  There is so much to this story and I’ll be thinking about and unpacking it long after I’ve finished reading it. – Erin, NSW, 3 stars

I didn’t know if I would enjoy this read as I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the racism aspect. And initially I did find it hard to keep my interest in the story, but I never give up on a book! And I’m glad I didn’t, because once I reached the end of Chapter 5 Such a Fun Age had me hooked. And just when I thought I knew where the story was going, no, here comes more plot twists. I think this would make a great holiday read, where you can sit back, relax and just enjoy a pleasant story. I am really pleased that I persisted with this read and I do look forward to seeing what comes next from Kiley Reid. – Belinda, QLD, 4 stars

Such a Fun Age is a deceptively quick read. On the surface it is a story of race and power. Emira is accused of kidnapping the child she babysits. Emira is black and the child is white. The man who films the situation uses it to buy his way into her life. Alix, her employer bends over backwards to be her friend. And Emira herself wants to play it all down because she has bigger problems in her life, like getting a full-time job with health coverage before she turns twenty-six and is dumped from her parent’s insurance. I’m not sure what was the fun age in the title. Is Kiley Reid talking about our times or the stress and fun of being in your mid-twenties? And was the reference sarcastic?? No matter which, Such a Fun Age is an interesting take on race relations, power, money, and guilt. Guilt being the main theme for me. Guilt at having more money than most, guilt for hiring a black nanny, guilt from the past, guilt at not having a permanent job… 4 stars for making me delve below the surface. – Daniella, QLD, 4 stars

Couldn’t have enjoyed this book more! Everything from the immediately immersive story line to the perfect dialogue (little Briar was definitely my favourite character) made this book a must read. – Brielle, NSW, 5 stars

It’s been a long time since I’ve found a book to be an enjoyable , ‘easy’, read that also surprised me and made me think! Just when I thought I’d figured out where the story looked like it was heading, I’d need to think again. Kiley Reid managed to make me empathise with all of the main characters, despite them coming from different points of view. I’m still not sure if I really liked any of them except for young Briar! I’d definitely recommend giving Such a Fun Age a read, I think it may surprise you – Joanne, QLD, 4 stars

An interesting debut novel that examines issues related to race relations, class, privilege and saviourism, as well as the emotional difficulties often encountered by people who look after other people’s children. This could easily have been a ‘heavy’ book, but Reid manages to lighten such moments with nuanced insights and well-placed humour. The writing is convincing and the main characters are well developed, though I did find the dialogue irritating at times and the ending somewhat rushed. All in all, ‘Such a Fun Age’ is an easy-to-read social commentary that will, once read, leave you pondering some of the issues it presented. – Dominique, SA, 3 stars

This book is not what I expected from the title, if anything it shows how such a tricky difficult age with finding out who you are and what you stand for. I really enjoyed reading this book and from the first chapter I was in hook, line and sinker! This is an interesting book that covers racism from 3 different angles. It has you thinking about who you think is right in the situation and what you would do if in the same situation. Without giving too much away there are quite a few twists and surprises in the book. I definitely wanted to keep reading and finished this book in a few days. This is a debut novel from Kiley Reid which I was lucky enough to preview. Great book and would recommend this to anyone who likes Jodi Picoult novels. – Virginia, NSW, 4 stars

Alix Chamberlain is a white, successful mother who has two children Briar and Catherine she has a loving husband and a great career. Emira is a young African American woman who is a recent graduate but is feeling a little lost in life. She needs to get a proper job before she turns 26 and has to start paying for her own health insurance. She has two casual/part item jobs one of them as babysitter to Briar. She doesn’t see this as a ‘real job’ but she does love being Briar’s ‘nanny’. Alix and Emira’s lives are worlds apart. Alix doesn’t really know a lot about Emira’s life until one night. Emira is asked to care for Briar late one night. Emira takes Briar to the local Market Depot and a security guard accuses Emira of kidnapping Briar. Emira is humiliated and calls Briar’s father to come to the store to sort it out . The episode is videoed by a man named Kelley **redacted due to potential spoilers** Alix is so horrified about the incident she feels she needs to do something. She wants to be Emira’s ‘white saviour’ but Emira doesn’t want or need to be saved. There are themes of racism, privilege, white superiority and the class divide. It is an easy read and although the subject matter is heavy it is written in a very straightforward authentic way. The characters are easy to like and very real. If is hard not to love Emira as she is so true to herself. Look out for this title you won’t be disappointed!! – Karyn, ACT, 4 stars

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Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid: Your Preview Verdict

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8 January 2020

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid: Your Preview Verdict

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    7 January 2020

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            Publisher details

            Such a Fun Age
            Kiley Reid
            31 December, 2019


            A striking and surprising debut novel from an exhilarating new voice, Such a Fun Age is a page-turning and big-hearted story about race and privilege, set around a young black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both.Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living, with her confidence-driven brand, showing other women how to do the same. So she 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 Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make things right.But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix’s desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone “family,” the complicated reality of being a grown up, and the consequences of doing the right thing for the wrong reason.
            Kiley Reid
            About the author

            Kiley Reid

            Kiley Reid is a recent graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop where she was the recipient of the Truman Capote Fellowship. She lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Such A Fun Age is her first novel.

            Books by Kiley Reid


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