Updated: Sep 19
Xolo Score 5/5
Such a Fun Age hits the ground running. We quickly meet Emira Tucker, a 25-year-old Black woman and part-time babysitter and typist who is navigating the limbo that is adulting in your 20s. The year is 2015, and Emira is somewhat enjoying a night out with her squad. Suddenly Emira receives a desperate call from her employer, Alix Chamberlain, to take their 3-year-old daughter to the local grocery store in a Philadelphia suburb while they manage a situation. Emira and her best friend Zara take Briar to the store and entertain her with an impromptu dance party that overjoys the toddler.
That all comes to an abrupt end when Whole Foods Karen calls over the security guard accusing Emira of kidnapping Briar. Emira reassures the security guard she is Briar's babysitter. The situation escalates until Emira calls Briar's father to the store. All this is caught on video by a white come mierda bystander who insists on recording the event and ignores Emira's protests. That's only like the first 20 pages of the book, and what follows is a series of uncomfortably cringy events that keep you hooked from start to finish.
The story alternates between the points of view of Emira and Alix. The decision to split chapters between Alix and Emira is a very captivating way to expose the everyday white gaze. It's through her perspective that we see how dangerous the white gaze can be. She constantly romanticizes Emira. Alix fixates on the idea of being Emira's new BFF. She imagines countless scenarios where Emira suddenly sees how inspirational and fantastically girl bossy Alix is and how Emira will naturally want to emulate her. For every chapter of Alix's delusional perception of herself and Emira, we get Emira's thoughts and points of view that shuts it all down. Emira cares very little about her employer. So much so that she doesn't know her first name.
In Alix's chapters, we see how well intentions, especially those of white people, can cause a lot of pain and harm. Reid is very intentional about writing Alix the way she is because we know an Alix, and we have been Alix. Alix is the epitome of the well-meaning white liberal feminist incapable of seeing how she perpetuates white supremacy. Reid kicks off the story with an overtly obvious display of racism. Still, the book oozes cringy microaggressions, racial biases, and tokenism. Emphasizing that overt racism happens, but it's the smaller day-to-day manifestations of white supremacy that prove the most harmful.
Reid also explores how genuine affection for a person can go hand and hand with tokenism. This idea is apparent in Alix's desire to be Emira's friend and her romantic relationship with Kelley Copeland (the come mierda from the store incident). Although we don't get Kelley's point of view, it's still clear that he and Alix believe they love and want the best for Emira.
Their affections go too far, and both end up fighting over who gets to be Emira's white savior. Not once considering Emira's agency and ability to make her own decisions. Such a Fun Age is uncomfortably real and awkward. A snapshot of the supposedly "post-racial America" we lived in pre-Trump. It's nuanced, hilarious, and relatable—an excellent read for the struggling millennial and a great passive-aggressive nudge to your tokenizing white suegra.