Guest blogger and LiL Support Team member, Alexa Kingsmith, just devoured the debut novel “Such a Fun Age” by Kiley Reid and is eager to share her thoughts.
An addition to the Booker Prize long-list in 2020, I can see why “Such a Fun Age” by Kiley Reid was well received by critics and book worms alike.
“Such a Fun Age” explores inter-racial relationships, specifically drawing on the relationship between an upper-middle class white woman (Alix) and her young African American babysitter (Emira). The book mocks the pursuit of ‘wokeness’ by the Caucasian characters while addressing themes of fetishization and tokenism along the way. It challenged my notions of what it means to write about race and class by creating often humorous, and always cringeworthy situations in the hopes of teaching readers valuable lessons about class and race.
There are many lessons to be learned from this book, but three major ones stuck out to me:
1. Good intentions can backfire.
Even if you identify as anti-racist, it is important to understand that racism exists indirectly in our everyday interactions. Racism is certainly not limited to brazen examples of hate.
Without giving away too much of the plot for those who plan to read the book, there is an instance where Alix takes the sharing of Emira’s personal experience into her own hands, convincing herself it is in Emira’s best interest. It’s important to consider that if you are white, or white-passing, the goal should be to become a Black ally – not a Black savior.
2. Check yourself.
It’s important to check your perceived level of awareness when it comes to issues of social and racial justice. Being aware of our own biases (unconscious or otherwise) is one of the first steps towards becoming an ally.
In the book, Alix convinces herself that there is no way she could possibly be racist, she has a Black friend after all!
3. It’s okay to be uncomfortable.
And it is perhaps the best way we can confront our own privilege. Being uncomfortable forces us to reflect on how we can become better and more active allies.
The book forced me to reflect upon and confront my own privilege and to reconsider interactions I have had in the past. It’s my hope that going forward, I will be more aware in situations of racial and social injustice and be better suited to appropriately handle them.
About the Author
Alexa is the Marketing and Business Development Coordinator at Harper Grey and a proud member of the LiL Support Team where she assists with content development, event organization and all other things LiL! A self-proclaimed word nerd, Alexa has a passion for reading, writing, editing and research. She is active in the community and serves as a Director on the BC Legal Management (BCLMA) Board, where she manages the organization’s social media strategy and brand identity. Outside of her professional commitments, Alexa’s love for exercise is rivaled only by her pursuit of the perfect glass of red wine.