A Best Book of the Year: The Washington Post • Chicago Tribune • NPR • Vogue • Elle • Real...
A Best Book of the Year:
The Washington Post • Chicago Tribune • NPR • Vogue • Elle • Real Simple • InStyle • Good Housekeeping • Parade • Slate • Vox • Kirkus Reviews • Library Journal • BookPage
Longlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize
An Instant New York Times Bestseller
A Reese's Book Club Pick
"The most provocative page-turner of the year." —Entertainment Weekly
"I urge you to read Such a Fun Age." —NPR
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," and the complicated reality of being a grown up. It is a searing debut for our times.
From the cover
That night, when Mrs. Chamberlain called, Emira could only piece together the words “. . . take Briar somewhere . . .” and “. . . pay you double.”
In a crowded apartment and across from someone screaming “That’s my song!,” Emira stood next to her girlfriends Zara, Josefa, and Shaunie. It was a Saturday night in September, and there was a little over an hour left of Shaunie’s twenty- sixth birthday. Emira turned the volume up on her phone and asked Mrs. Chamberlain to say it again.
“Is there any way you can take Briar to the grocery store for a bit?” Mrs. Chamberlain said. “I’m so sorry to call. I know it’s late.”
It was almost astonishing that Emira’s daily babysitting job (a place of pricey onesies, colorful stacking toys, baby wipes, and sectioned dinner plates) could interrupt her current nighttime state (loud music, bodycon dresses, lip liner, and red Solo cups). But here was Mrs. Chamberlain, at 10:51 p.m., waiting for Emira to say yes. Under the veil of two strong mixed drinks, the intersection of these spaces almost seemed funny, but what wasn’t funny was Emira’s current bank balance: a total of seventy-nine dollars and sixteen cents. After a night of twenty-dollar entrées, birthday shots, and collective gifts for the birthday girl, Emira Tucker could really use the cash.
“Hang on,” she said. She set her drink down on a low coffee table and stuck her middle finger into her other ear. “You want me to take Briar right now?”
On the other side of the table, Shaunie placed her head on Josefa’s shoulder and slurred, “Does this mean I’m old now? Is twenty-six old?” Josefa pushed her off and said, “Shaunie, don’t start.” Next to Emira, Zara untwisted her bra strap. She made a disgusted face in Emira’s direction and mouthed, Eww, is that your boss?
“Peter accidentally—we had an incident with a broken window and . . . I just need to get Briar out of the house.” Mrs. Chamberlain’s voice was calm and strangely articulate as if she were delivering a baby and saying, Okay, mom, it’s time to push. “I’m so sorry to call you this late,” she said. “I just don’t want her to see the police.”
“Oh wow. Okay, but, Mrs. Chamberlain?” Emira sat down at the edge of a couch. Two girls started dancing on the other side of the armrest. The front door of Shaunie’s apartment opened to Emira’s left, and four guys came in yelling, “Ayyeee!”
“Jesus,” Zara said. “All these niggas tryna stunt.”
“I don’t exactly look like a babysitter right now,” Emira warned. “I’m at a friend’s birthday.” “Oh God. I’m so sorry. You should stay—”
“No no, it’s not like that,” Emira said louder. “I can leave. I’m just letting you know that I’m in heels and I’ve like . . . had a drink or two. Is that okay?”
Baby Catherine, the youngest Chamberlain at five months old, wailed in the receiver. Mrs. Chamberlain said, “Peter, can you please take her?” and then, up close, “Emira, I don’t care what you look like. I’ll pay for your cab here and your cab home.”
Emira slipped her phone into the pouch of her crossbody bag, making sure all of her other belongings were present. When she stood and relayed the news of her early departure to her girlfriends, Josefa said,...
About the Author-
- Kiley Reid earned her MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she was awarded the Truman Capote Fellowship and taught undergraduate creative writing workshops with a focus on race and class. Her short stories have been featured in Ploughshares, December, New South, and Lumina. Reid lives in Philadelphia.
September 2, 2019
In her debut, Reid crafts a nuanced portrait of a young black woman struggling to define herself apart from the white people in her life who are all too ready to speak and act on her behalf. Emira Tucker knows that the one thing she’s unequivocally good at is taking care of children, specifically the two young daughters, Briar and Catherine, of her part-time employer, Alix Chamberlain. However, about to turn 26 and lose her parents’ health insurance, and while watching her friends snatch up serious boyfriends and enviable promotions, Temple grad Emira starts to feel ashamed about “still” babysitting. This humiliation is stoked after she’s harassed by security personnel at an upscale Philadelphia grocery store where she’d taken three-year-old Briar. Emira later develops a romantic relationship with Kelley, the young white man who captured cellphone video of the altercation, only to discover that Kelley and Alix have a shared and uncomfortable past, one that traps Emira in the middle despite assertions that everyone has her best interests at heart. Reid excels at depicting subtle variations and manifestations of self-doubt, and astutely illustrates how, when coupled with unrecognized white privilege, this emotional and professional insecurity can result in unintended—as well as willfully unseen—consequences. This is an impressive, memorable first outing. Agent: Claudia Ballard, WME Entertainment.
- Narrator Nicole Lewis hooks listeners with her lively pacing and vivid characterizations in this gripping debut audiobook on race, privilege, and money. In an upscale Philadelphia grocery shop, 25-year-old black college graduate Emira is improperly detained by a security guard who refuses to believe that she is the babysitter of her white employer's 3-year-old daughter, Briar. Lewis superbly captures the fallout from this disturbing encounter--Emira's growing unease; intrusive behavior from Alix, Emira's employer and Briar's mother; and complications from Emira's romantic entanglement with Kelly, a young white man who filmed the incident. Lewis skillfully delivers the snappy repartee between Emira and her best friend, Zara, and the "Sex and the City" vibe of Alix and her New York City friends, Tamra, Jodi, and Rachel. M.J. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award � AudioFile 2020, Portland, Maine
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OverDrive MP3 AudiobookBurn to CD:PermittedTransfer to device:PermittedTransfer to Apple® device:PermittedPublic performance:Not permittedFile-sharing:Not permittedPeer-to-peer usage:Not permittedAll copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.