Read July 3, 2020 – July 4, 2020
Last month a couple of people on Instagram and I decided we would have a virtual book club – not because of the restrictions due to COVID, but because we are from different places – Florida, California, Germany, and the United Kingdom! We shared some books on our TBR lists and had a vote.. Kiley Reid’s debut novel was something that interested all of us. The topics of race and privilege were highlighted in the description and we knew it would be something that would push our conversation to some important and uncomfortable places.
What is it about?
Reid’s novel is a coming of age story about a young black girl, Emira. Emira is in her early 20s and babysits for a wealthy white family in Philadelphia. The opening of the narrative puts you in a complete panic when Emira is caring for a white child at a local supermarket and a security guard approaches her, accusing her of having kidnapped the child. A bystander films the entire thing and asks her out afterward but this older white guy leaves the reader questioning his motives.
Alix, Emira’s employer, is set on making things right and feels guilty for the supermarket situation. She gets a little obsessive about her babysitter and begins to cross some boundaries but when the video of the incident leaks, Alix is desperate to help Emira avoid unwanted attention from the media. Emira is determined to move forward with her life and her only wish is to find a full time position with benefits, something Alix isn’t providing. In order to move to the next stage in life, Emira needs to put this behind her and secure something stable.
What does it have?
- Race Prejudices
- Coming of Age
- Interracial Relationships
Reid’s novel comments on race in a few different ways, sometimes it’s a little subtle and others it’s more overt. I enjoyed being able to read and analyze the intentions of some of the white people in Emira’s life, especially when she engages in a romantic relationship with a white guy. Kelley, the man Emira is dating, takes her to a bar that is very clearly the type of spot racists might be found and doesn’t consider her feelings at all. Afterward, Emira tells him, “Just remember that we have different experiences” (Such a Fun Age). She tries to get her boyfriend to be more conscious of the places he brings her and to of the message the establishments might be sending.
Is it worth reading?
Yes! This was a great read and an especially important novel in terms of conversations we should be having. This is an especially timely novel and allows us to open the dialogue to discuss aspects of the black experience in US – a topic many try to stay away from. This is a work of fiction so it may be more approachable to those turned off by first-hand accounts in memoirs.
Let me know in the comments below if you found this review helpful! Feedback gives me an idea of what info you want to see in This Just Read posts 🙂