Such a Fun Age. Finished 5-23-20, 3.5/5 stars, fiction, pub. 2019
In the midst of a family crisis one late evening, white blogger Alix Chamberlain calls her African American babysitter, Emira, asking her to take toddler Briar to the local market for distraction. There, the security guard accuses Emira of kidnapping Briar, and Alix’s efforts to right the situation turn out to be good intentions selfishly mismanaged. fromGoodreads
This story had a great start. Emira, at a club celebrating a friend’s birthday, is called to help the family who she babysits for several times a week. She takes Briar to the local grocery store to kill time while the police are at the Chamberlain home. Emira and her friend are dressed for the club and not the posh grocery store and things turn ugly when another customer and the security guard accuse Emira of stealing the child. A cute guy tapes the whole thing on his phone and the police and Mr. Chamberlain are called. This scenario is full of possibilities.
What happens next is a lot of coincidence. I mean more than makes any sense. Kelly, the guy who tapes the scene, finds Emira again on the subway and they start dating. Alix feels so much guilt over getting Emira into that situation that she becomes fixated on her, determined to show how un-racist she really is. I don’t really want to say more so as not to spoil any big reveals.
We read this for my book club and it led to a great Zoom discussion. What was the consensus? Alix was a terrible mother and person. Emira seemed a little lost. Most of the ladies didn’t understand the issues with Kelly, but I got it. Most felt the like ending was incomplete, but for me it seemed perfectly fitting for Emira. What I took away from this novel is that the issues that Alix and Kelly made about race were often not seen the same way by Emira, there was a lot of projecting of their take on the other person, but Emira didn’t have an issue with either of them (at least for most of the book). It’s a great discussion book, but I didn’t love it.