I had no intention of reading Such A Fun Age. The premise sounded mildly appealing/interesting:
When Emira is apprehended at a supermarket for ‘kidnapping’ the white child she’s actually babysitting, it sets off an explosive chain of events. Her employer Alix, a feminist blogger with the best of intentions, resolves to make things right.
But Emira herself is aimless, broke and wary of Alix’s desire to help. When a surprising connection emerges between the two women, it sends them on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know – about themselves, each other, and the messy dynamics of privilege.
But really, I’m rather over the whole adulting trope with a world peopled by no-one but twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings. Yet it was hard to completely resist the buzz surrounding the release of this book.
It was everywhere.
Then a colleague read it and came back with a surprisingly good reaction, so I decided to turn Such A Fun Age into a lunch time read.
It’s the perfect pick-up, put-down book, ideal as a holiday read or a complete change of pace between your usual fare.
While the dynamics were initially quite tantalising, not being quite sure in which direction this story was going to go, it quickly settled into a book about other people’s
self-made dramas. The only likeable characters were Emira, the babysitter, and the toddler, Briar. They had some genuinely awkward moments to contend with, but they just got on with life and didn’t make a fuss. They didn’t spend their time over-thinking every action and reaction, they just got on with having a mutually heart-warming and caring relationship.
Everyone else was pretty annoying. Alix and her friends were ghastly, Emira’s friends were tiresome, the husband was a non-event, the children accessories and the boyfriend, Kelley was just creepy.
Class privilege, racial and gender issues bubbled away behind the scenes but were never really resolved. Perhaps there was more actually going on here that an American reader would pick up on, but I simply got weary of all the talk about clothes and hair and social media status. But maybe I’m just showing my age!
There was some interesting stuff about memories, personal bias and how we perceive ourselves compared to how others actually see us, but since no-one really rose above their stereotype it was hard to know what to make of it all. It’s this more than anything that leaves me feeling disappointed. A world peopled by no-one but more people of the same age is ultimately dull and an unhealthy place to be. It felt much like watching an episode of a more ethnically diverse Friends.
Don’t get me wrong. Reading this book was a tremendous romp and if I’d been lying on the beach as I did so, it would have been perfect! It’s only as I’ve started to think about it more deeply to write this post, that I see how fluffy and flawed it is. But then, not every single book has to be high literature. Some books are just for fun, at any age.