Lots of people say being around toddlers is fun. They talk for hours, love to play and explore and like to think they’re big kids. However, the night Emira Tucker babysat 2-year-old Briar Chamberlain was no fun at all.
Emira started her day like any other. She went to work and later attended a best friend’s birthday party. She was unexpectedly called to babysit around 10 pm and arrived without hesitation, despite the odd hours. The night took a turn for the worse when Emira, a young Black woman, was accused of kidnapping Briar Chamberlain, the white toddler she so often took care of. Kidnapping? How could she be accused of kidnapping?! She was only doing her job. Emira never imagined taking Briar to a grocery store in a majority-white neighborhood would nearly land her in police custody.
Kiley Reid’s “Such a Fun Age” is a self-discovery novel that chronicles the life of 25-year-old Emira Tucker as she works to find her passion and place in a world of white privilege.
Kiley Reid’s debut novel “Such a Fun Age” hit shelves on December 31, 2019 and quickly became a success. Photo courtesy of Maya Miller.
While working as a babysitter for 40-year-old Alix Chamberlain, New York socialite and founder and CEO of LetHerSpeak, Emira gained an awareness of just how privileged those around her are. They can easily find jobs with the numerous connections they have. They make six figures. They live in glamorous houses or upscale apartments. Emira, on the other hand, struggles to find a job with adequate pay and benefits before her 26th birthday, which means being removed from her parents’ health insurance. She juggles two jobs while her friends are up and coming in their own careers. She feels lost and left behind until a series of unfortunate events helps Emira shape her character and find her voice.
“Such a Fun Age” is a beautifully crafted novel that weaves together many social justice issues. The book highlights some of the problems Black women face when navigating professional spaces and places such as low pay, labor exploitation, racism, classism and cultural differences. It is an excellent book for college students and young Black women who are in a stage of discovering their strengths and their path for the future. Reid narrates the story from the perspectives of both Emira and Alix, as they try to understand each other, despite their racial and lifestyle differences.
The stories shared in the novel are so captivating I had a hard time putting the book down. In the book, Reid addresses white people who have Black friends, date Black people and appreciate Black culture can still benefit from white privilege, even if they don’t immediately recognize it. One part of the book that spoke to me was when Emira confronts a white person who does not recognize their privilege. No matter how much a white person loves and stands up for Black people and Black culture, they still enjoy greater access to education, jobs and opportunities than those they work so hard to defend. They enjoy the benefit of not having to be aware of their race. In contrast, Black people continuously have to be mindful of their race.
I highly recommend “Such a Fun Age” for young Black women who are college-age or older. I identified with Emira on the journey to find herself and recognize her skills after graduating from college. I am also trying to figure out what to do with my life and navigate how my Blackness influences my future. I know there are more young Black women who can relate to the ups and downs of the journey.