2 Sentence Summary
“Such A Fun Age” by Kiley Reid explores the complexities of race and privilege through the lives of Emira and Briar. Reid’s debut novel offers a thought-provoking examination of modern society, shedding light on issues of racism, hypocrisy, and forgiveness.
Summary Read Time: Less than 4 minutes
Actual Book Length: 310
First Published in: 2019
Below is the detailed yet quick Such A Fun Age summary:
Emira Tucker, a 25-year-old babysitter, is thrust into a discomforting situation one night. After receiving an emergency call from Mrs. Chamberlain to care for her young daughter, Briar, Emira takes the girl to a nearby supermarket for distraction. The peaceful outing takes a disheartening turn when Emira, who is black, is questioned by a security guard regarding her guardianship over the white child. This conflict, recorded by a bystander named Kelley Copeland, leaves Emira dispirited, despite her attempts to shrug it off.
The following morning, we are introduced to Alix and Peter Chamberlain, Emira’s employers. Their life, with its perfect veneer of a female empowerment advocate and journalist-turned-newscaster, conceals their hidden anxieties. Following a controversial remark from Peter on air, leading to accusations of racism and a vandalized house, their panic leads to the call to Emira. Meanwhile, Emira, a college graduate unsure of her professional aspirations, battles with her personal conflict following the supermarket incident and the need to find a new job.
As the story unfolds, we learn more about Emira and Alix’s individual lives. Alix seeks advice from her friends, fearing that Emira might quit. He and tries to compensate Emira for the supermarket incident with an additional two weeks’ salary. Meanwhile, Emira encounters Kelley again and they share an intimate night, the book hinting at a mysterious past between Kelley and Alix.
The narrative deepens as we witness the evolving dynamics of our key characters. A month since the supermarket incident, Emira’s relationship with Kelley blooms, much to Alix’s chagrin, who learns about it from Emira’s phone. Kelley, a coder in his thirties, strikes a different note with Emira when he quotes a racial slur from a story about his past, leaving Emira unsettled. Meanwhile, Alix’s past is brought to light, revealing her transformation from Alex Murphy to Alix due to an embarrassing event involving her first boyfriend – Kelley himself.
The story continues to unfold the complexities of Alix’s past and the current realities of Emira’s life. After a traumatic incident that results in her social exile and the end of her relationship with Kelley, Alix leaves Pennsylvania for NYU to escape the past. In the present, Alix unintentionally overlooks a significant event for Briar, causing tension with Emira. Simultaneously, Emira grapples with her low-paying babysitting job and her judgments about Alix’s parenting, and starts to notice the rift between Alix and Briar.
As Alix endeavors to forge a deeper connection with Emira, a holiday surprise catches her off-guard. When Emira’s Thanksgiving travel plans get canceled, Alix eagerly invites her and her boyfriend to join the Chamberlain family celebration. However, the seemingly amicable gathering takes a dramatic turn when Alix opens her door to find that Emira’s boyfriend is none other than Kelley, her ex and the protagonist of her painful past. The shared history between Alix and Kelley promises an intriguing twist in the narrative.
Kelley, Alix’s ex-boyfriend and Emira’s current beau, unexpectedly joins the Chamberlains’ Thanksgiving dinner. The atmosphere is fraught with strained exchanges and concealed past connections. Alix, feeling insecure, reveals to her friends that Kelley is her former flame, but opts to keep the details under wraps. Kelley, meanwhile, shares his discomfort with Emira, signaling his wish to leave the gathering.
The evening unfolds with a blend of awkward interactions and heartfelt moments. Conversations around the dinner table delve into personal stories, prompting Alix to recall her initial pursuit of Peter. As the group chats about their relationships and life ambitions, Briar’s sudden health scare reveals Emira’s deep care for her. It turns out as a fact that triggers Alix’s possessiveness when she observes Kelley’s concern for Emira.
Post-dinner, the plot thickens as Kelley urges Emira to leave her job, citing Alix’s past actions that significantly affected his friend Robbie. Their discussion culminates in an argument about understanding and perspective, but ultimately ends with reconciliation.
In the aftermath, Alix obsessively delves into Kelley’s online presence, uncovering a pattern in his romantic interests. The discovery leads to heated discussions with her friends about racial fetishization, her protective instincts towards Emira, and her own professional aspirations. Despite the tumultuous Thanksgiving, Emira continues to demonstrate her affection for Briar, underscoring the bond between them.
Alix’s confrontation with Kelley on Emira’s behalf results in a charged dialogue about past misunderstandings, race, and love. Yet, even as Alix champions Emira’s interests, she unwittingly stumbles upon a video on Emira’s open email account that could change everything. Unseen tensions mount as Alix takes the matter into her own hands. This leads to an explosive revelation at Emira’s 26th birthday party: the controversial supermarket video is online.
Alix, unswayed by the public stir, approaches Emira with a contract for a full-time position, complete with benefits. The offer ushers in a newfound sense of closeness for Emira, and she readily accepts. However, the sweet agreement soon turns sour during a planned TV segment. It’s because Emira learns from Zara that Alix was behind the video leak. Urged to leave her job, Emira secures a role with benefits at the Green Party. She makes her exit from the Chamberlains’ employment on live television.
In the aftermath, Emira bids a brief farewell to Briar, leaving Alix in an outburst of anger. A flashback gives insight into Alix’s high school years and the misplaced letter that ignited her feud with Kelley. Emira transitions to her new role at the Green Party, cutting ties with Kelley and the Chamberlains. Despite the tumultuous circumstances, she fondly remembers her time with Briar, marking a heartfelt ending to this vibrant, poignant tale.