January

Our inaugural book club read is Kiley Reid's debut novel, "Such A Fun Age". Reviews were quick to flood in (thank you January gloom for making staying in with a good book so appealing!) and we're so excited to start sharing your opinions, praise (there's been a lot of that) and general bookishness!

"It was worth the tiredness and hermit lifestyle" Louise M. - founding reader

The female characters were so different, but they were all so strong and complex. Even Alix, who made some seriously questionable decisions had survived a lot of pain and had a lot of love to give, just not always pointed in the right direction. Emira's struggle to find a direction and to not allow her friends successes to set her further back down the rabbit hole was so honest and relatable to anyone in their mid to late twenties. Especially those trying to find out what their 'calling' is while also managing to pay bills and make sure their living the life you're told to enjoy in your twenties. Briar is my favourite child that has ever been a character in a book I’ve read. I hope that even when she becomes a normal person doing the normal things Emira imagines, that she somehow remains as curious and confident as she is as a child. I’m recommending this book to anyone that will listen and will probably read it again soon!


"Try it, you'll like it" Ola H. - Piglet's Chief Bookworm

I managed to read this book in less than a week, which in my household is a bit of miracle so I clearly must have liked it. It is in fact very “readable” (even coming across as gossipy at first) so much so that I think a lot of the layers (and is has plenty) can easily be skimmed over and not given enough ponder time.

The dual perspectives keep it pacey and the characters are relatable with the monologues making me chuckle at times, but what actually made it for me was the relationship between Emira and her charge, Briar, which glowed with authenticity. Tackles a difficult subject with wit and approachability and the popularity it has garnered doesn't surprise me. Read it, you’ll like it.


"The hype around this book is 110% justified." @bookandburgs - founding reader

The main characters, Emira and Alix, were expertly crafted. Emira was smart, funny and very likeable while Alix was much more of a narcissist and deeply concerned with what other people thought about her. I loved how the story was told from both of their perspectives, which made me appreciate how they interacted with each other and how their dynamic shifted throughout the book.⁣⁣
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While the book centres around race and class, it explores relationships in a really clever way, both how the characters relate to one another bit also how they relate to themselves. The inner monologues are equal parts hilarious as they are poignant and work perfectly to give you a deeper insight into what makes the characters tick.⁣⁣
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The story itself was very compelling and moved at the perfect pace - fast enough to keep you turning pages but slow enough that you really got to know the characters and become deeply invested in how everything unfolds.⠀


"Really indicative of where society is at now" @julietslibrary

I was super excited to read this book, and I’ve now finished it and it definitely didn’t disappoint. It’s so current, completely engrossing, and really made me think. The book’s about race, privilege, power dynamics, personal narratives, and so much more, but it’s very nuanced with its approach - I feel like it’s about the small actions that make up our lives, and the motives behind these actions. The plot simultaneously covers a lot of ground, and not much at all, but I feel the crux of the book is about misconstrued events and the repercussions of this. And yet I feel it’s making its point quietly but persistently, rather than brashly and obviously.

I think this book is really indicative of where society is at now - second guessing motives, calling out actions, holding people to account - and I think it’s a great one for a bookclub as I think there’s loads to discuss.


"A ‘I-need-to-know-what-happens-next’ novel that’s both enjoyable and thought-provoking." Sophie R. founding reader

I loved this book – Reid deftly deals with big societal issues around race and power with wonderfully layered characters. You’re plunged straight into the action and the plot continues apace, whilst constantly being encouraged to question and think about characters actions and reasonings.

Nanny Emira’s relationship with Briar is beautifully explored but all the female characters explore the different roles we as women hold; friend, mother, wife, lover and care-giver, and how they stand in society. The ending perfectly sums up Emira’s journey though the novel whilst shining a light on where we are now as a society.


"I really enjoyed it and if I hadn't been sent it then I don't know whether I would have read this as it isn't one that I would have normally picked up!" Claire T. founding reader

An interesting read - Emira is accused of kidnapping a white girl that she is babysitting. Alix her boss tries to help in what she thinks is the best way she can - it is a book about Race, Privilege, Class, motherhood and relationships. It is a funny and uncomfortable read in places but definitely a book for this time - it would make a good bookclub book as there are so many points to talk about ! Thank you so much to Piglet in Bed for sending me a copy as part of their book club Under the Covers - this is also a Reese Witherspoon book of the month and I wouldn't be surprised if it gets made into a film!


"I know it's getting a lot of attention [...] but it's not without cause" @thehalcyondaysofsummer

This book touches on so so much. The nuances within friendships, the careers that society deem acceptable, the conflict within ourselves to know ourselves {not everyone does know and that is ok}, relationships, heartbreak, race and bigotry {and the many facets that takes}. Emira is one powerhouse of a protagonist and her relationship with Briar is the beating heart within the book. Her characters left me conflicted, showing that we all have different ‘truths’. There are shades of grey in almost everything. This one kept me entertained right until the end. A very strong ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


"Loved it" Natalie B. founding reader

Thanks so much for sending a copy of the book to me. I wanted to let you know I absolutely loved it and read it in 2 days. I love books where you feel conflicted about the characters - no one was perfect and it really made me reflect on how I’d react in particular situations. In fact most characters seemed oblivious to their faults or foibles which made me question myself further. It was extremely readable with a great, modern and relevant story that addressed issues in an unobtrusive way. Loved it and have recommended it to many friends and colleagues!

 


"A great book that raised interesting questions" Florence B.-O. founding reader

I’ve just finished ‘such a fun age’ and really enjoyed it. I found it a great book that raised interesting questions and topics not only to do with race (obviously the main theme in the book) but also about young people’s ambitions in life. I found it really interesting how many people questioned Emira’s success and ambition, especially Alix’s friends from New York. I found that Emira clearly found a lot of happiness in Briar which was not seen as ambition and success!


Some book club questions to consider
(and bicker about with friends!)

  • “Emira,” he said. “Don’t tell me she makes you wear a uniform.” 

    “Well, she doesn’t make me do anything.” 

    What does the novel have to say about the transactional nature of domestic work? Why do you think Emira and Kelley disagree on the significance of the polo shirt? 

  • Emira continues to work for the Chamberlains through difficult circumstances, largely because of her attachment to Briar. How does their relationship compare to Alix’s relationship with Briar? Why do you think Briar means so much to Emira? 
  • White privilege is a recurrent theme in the novel, especially where it goes unrecognised. Do you think fiction is a useful medium for raising awareness of this issue? In what ways might fiction be more successful than non-fiction at starting thee conversations?
  • Such A Fun Age tackles very serious themes, and throws its characters into some incredibly stressful moral dilemmas. In light of this, what do you make of the word ‘fun’ in the title?  

Liked this month's title? Try these

 

 Queenie – Candice Carty Williams Normal People – Sally Rooney Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng Ordinary People – Diana Evans The Farm – Joanne Ramos An American Marriage – Tayari Jones Girl, Woman, Other – Bernardine Evaristo The Sellout – Paul Beatty Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge 

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