As Emira stands with little Briar on the aisle of nuts in the grocery store, an old white woman, who a second ago had smiled at their impromptu dance party, taps on to an officer saying that Emira does not ‘look like a nanny’ and she is concerned that the white kid is not safe.
Kiley Reid’s debut novel ‘Such A Fun Age’, published by G. P. Putham’s Sons in 2019 has received critical acclamations from all over the world — representing the prejudices, expectations, assumptions and choices of black people.
26 years old Emira had to get out of her friend’s birthday party to babysit 3 years old Briar as windows of the Chamberlain house has been broken as a result of Mr. Chamberlain’s offhanded racist comment on the television. And Mrs. Chamberlain does not want Briar to see the police.
The midnight tour in the grocery store proves to be disastrous as Emira, a black woman is accused of stealing Briar, a white kid; until she calls Mr. Chamberlain – “He’s an old white guy.. So I’m sure everyone will feel better” and the matter is momentarily resolved.The midnight tour in the grocery store proves to be disastrous as Emira, a black woman is accused of stealing Briar, a white kid; until she calls Mr. Chamberlain – “He’s an old white guy.. So I’m sure everyone will feel better” and the matter is momentarily resolved.
the life of a black woman in a white society. From the expectation that she can steal a kid, to the need to protect and help her use her rights, even when the help is not desired.
Alix Chamberlain (pronounced as ‘uh-leeks’) starting out her career by writing handwritten letters to companies asking for regular essentials to elite haircare products, is now moderately famous, appearing on interviews and workshops, naming her brand ‘LetHerSpeak’.
Several virtual conversations with her three best friends from New York later, Alix decides to be sensitive-friends with her sitter. As days go by, Alix thinks to herself, it is almost like she has a crush on Emira – secretly checking her phone, getting upset at her time of leaving, constantly trying to have deeper conversations and helping her in ways Emira could never guess.
While celebrating the prefect Christmas, as Alix opens her door to Emira and her boyfriend, Kelley, Alix and Kelley realise they are previously acquainted. None of them really getting over the past with massively different interpretation of events left in the past and played out in the present.
Even though the chapters are alternated between Erina and Alix, Emira definitely stands out as our protagonist- a struggling adult without a real job, an odd one out among family and friends, but in a completely relatable manner. With the constant worry of being out of her parents’ health insurance, Emira knows how to be happy and can say “I know my tights, bro” when someone suggests that she can sue the shop for harrassing her.
Not an ‘elegant’ read, Reid confidently and precisely puts on your plate whatever there is, with honesty — the life of a black woman in a white society. From the expectation that she can steal a kid, to the need to protect and help her use her rights, even when the help is not desired.
It can be an uncomfortable read because of the depictions of boundaries between white people and a person of colour, the rich and the poor, the overachiever and one who is content with what little work they have.
This is one of the wonderful and important books that the works needs to read — acknowledge what is happening, and what is being done- consciously or not; not to under or over expose anyone without their consent. Treating everyone as humans above colour, caste, religion, status, sex etc.