While Emira, a twenty-something babysitter, is being paid to chaperone an inquisitive toddler in an upmarket grocery store in Philadelphia, she suddenly finds herself being accused of kidnapping. At this moment, the blurred divisions of class, race and privilege come into sharp focus.
Emira’s life isn’t on the trajectory that people think it ‘should’ be. She’s a college educated babysitter with no health insurance and no plans for the future.
Her boss, Alix, is in contrast a wealthy white social media entrepreneur who takes it upon herself to “fix” Emira’s life and make amends for that fateful night in the grocery store. When good intentions collide with a desperate need to be like and admired, Alix’s efforts to help Emira soon spiral out of control.
This story shows how everyday racism and prejudice is exposed and then covered-up, called-out and then denied. While the events impact Emira alone, it’s interesting to see how Alix takes control of the story and how it will be told. In an attempt to champion liberalism and equality, Alix unwittingly exposes the very power dynamics that undermine Emira’s autonomy.
It’s a brilliant debut novel with endless observations on parenthood, race, comparison, narcissism, wealth and inequality. The book lays out some uncomfortable home truths in a very real way, while being funny, endearing and quick-witted at the same time.
What did you think of Such a Fun Age? Did you feel empathy or anger for Alix?