Such a Fun Age

by Kiley Reid

Missing the cut and thrust of messily interconnecting lives while you hunker down at home? Then this crackling debut novel is for you. Entertaining, enlightening and frequently funny, this story explores the interplay of race and class in current day America. The story opens in a Philadelphia supermarket, where the hero of this story, black babysitter, twenty-something Emira, is minding her boss’s child, an adorable (white) toddler named Briar. While her boss sorts out an emergency at their comfortable middle-class home a short distance away, an overly zealous supermarket security guard accuses Emira of kidnapping the child. Another shopper, a white thirty-something, appalled by this breach of civil liberties, films the exchange on his phone and later offers to send it to a news station to expose the inherent racism therein. Emira declines his offer and she and this seemingly gallant stranger end up romantically involved.

Emira’s boss, Alix, a white upwardly mobile career woman who has spun her ability to write delightful letters into a business where she’s given free merchandise, is a complex study of ambition and low self-esteem. She is obsessive, increasingly so about her employee Emira, trying to foster an ever-deeper relationship with her and meddling in her private life with increasingly disastrous results.

Kiley Reid is a bold new voice in fiction. The dialogue between yummie mummies, homegirls and toddlers is pitch perfect and the reader is able to peek into these unravelling lives as their worlds collide. A book that will provide the chaos of old while you’re temporarily isolated in your own domestic bubble.

Reviewed for Zimmermann by Sophie Lee.