Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid
I read Kiley’s book, Such a Fun Age a few weekends ago and then, subsequently listened to every podcast on the interweb about it. It's about a 25 year old black woman named Emira and the two white people in her life at that point, her employer and the guy she starts dating. The story is just so real. I enjoyed listening to Kiley herself talk about the complexities of the characters, and how we know people just like them in our lives. Throughout the book, I noticed my brain trying to figure out which person was “right” and which person was “wrong” until I realized that that is such a horrible way to look at a story, and just generally at people. People and evidently, characters (unless they’re in a Disney movie) aren’t that simple. It is such a captivating yet truthful story about the biases we hold, the agendas we can have and, as the podcast Nerdette puts it, “the healing power of whiteness”.
Kiley also speaks about how the novel was based in 2015, and how that was a strategic choice. It was before Trump was elected. She speaks about how having such a 2D, homophobic, racist, and just outright mean figure in office has led to a lot of progressive people getting to say “oh well I’m not like this person, and so I must be fine. I must not have these biases because I would never do these things that this person does.” She continues on, “I don’t think this is how humans operate. I think that you can be a really charming, loving person and also carry all these biases with you everyday.”
I also loved this bit Kiley added: “Alex kind of forgets that to empower other people you have to lose power a lot of the time. She’s the equivalent of ‘Oh my gosh I really love these people, how do I help them? Maybe we’ll paint a mural on their school’. It’s fun for an hour but it has no lasting effects. Do I think she’s a bad person for not having that foresight? No, but I think that bad things can happen when your foresight is so short.”
It was one of those books that I couldn’t put down and made me think a lot; about my own life and how I act with my own biases. You guys should give it a read!