The Jakarta Post
'Such A Fun Age' by Kiley Reid (JP/Wienda Parwitasari)
Kiley Reid’s debut novel, Such a Fun Age, was released earlier this year and has gathered mainly positive reviews from contemporary-adult fiction fans.
Set in the year 2016, the novel centers on the issue of race and class in the United States, but being written in a light and almost comedic manner it serves as a genuine reminder that the issue is more than what meets the eye.
Such a Fun Age begins with a classic "caught being racist" moment, which has lately garnered attention in the media.
Emira Tucker, a 25-year-old African-American is babysitting 33-year-old Alix Chamberlain’s toddler late at night when she is accused of kidnapping. Her heated exchange with a white security guard results in a potentially viral video, and she is let go only after the child’s father explains the situation. But despite Emira’s attempt to move on, the unreleased video creates a shift of behavior for people around her; her boss, especially.
Alix Chamberlain is a young mom-of-two, 3-year-old Briar and six-month-old Catherine. She is also a social media star leading her own women’s-empowerment campaign called "Let Her Speak". When she's not busy writing letters to companies for endorsements, drafting her book or staying relevant, she chats with her upper-middle-class friends and tells Briar “No, lovey” on seemingly everything.
Nevertheless, the fated evening changes both their lives. Emira realizes how she could have easily dodged the situation had she had a better job, while Alix realizes that she knows nothing about Emira other than that she’s a good sitter.
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As Alix tries to befriend Emira and protect her at all cost, Alix's intentions start to cause concern: Is she doing it for Emira’s sake or for her own sake?
Added to the picture is Kelley Copeland, the white guy who recorded the video. He started off as the guy with good intentions, encouraging Emira to take matters to the police and who later dates her.
But despite having traits that point to something more problematic, Emira ignores them as her feelings grow.
Reid’s writing style makes the book a light and enjoyable read. Before you know it, we are in the middle of Kelley and Alix’s battle of "Who’s more racist?" The two are so indulged in the game that they fail to realize that stripped of her dark skin, Emira is a 25-year-old searching for a passion to turn into a respectable job.
Such a Fun Age is an informative eye-opener, with insights on how the situation is more complicated than what is portrayed in the media. Trading off between Alix’s and Emira’s minds, who are both lovable, Reid offers a broader understanding of the situation from polar opposites, sparking tiny debates in the reader’s mind.
It is the type of book that prompts you to read it quickly. Although, if you read it too fast you might miss meaningful elements that make it brilliant. And as you rethink, the plot makes more sense and leaves you understanding the message Kiley Reid so effortlessly tries to deliver. (wng)
The writer is an intern at The Jakarta Post
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