Such a Fun Age


Kiley Reid

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Such a Fun Age Summary

Emira Tucker is at a party with her friends—Zara, Shaunie, and Josefa—late one Saturday night when Alix Chamberlain, the woman Emira babysits for, calls Emira and begs her to watch Briar Chamberlain, Alix’s two-year-old child. Alix explains that she has a family emergency and doesn’t want Briar around. Emira needs the money and reluctantly agrees, so she heads over to the Chamberlains’ house. Zara accompanies her. When they arrive, they see a hole in the Chamberlains’ window. Per Alix’s recommendation, they go to Market Depot, a nearby upscale supermarket, to kill some time. There, they have an impromptu dance party in one of the aisles. After Zara leaves, though, a security guard accuses Emira of kidnapping Briar and refuses to believe that Emira is Briar’s babysitter. It’s only after Peter Chamberlain arrives that the guard backs off. A bystander (Kelley Copeland) records the altercation. Afterward, Kelley urges Emira to post the video online, but Emira doesn’t want to. When Kelley won’t back down, Emira relents and allows Kelley to at least forward her the video.

Alix Chamberlain recalls the details of her life that led to this point: when Alix is in college, she starts writing letters to companies and receiving free products in exchange for her written reviews. She then posts everything to her blog. Over time, Alix’s blog gains a respectable following. Eventually, it becomes LetHer Speak, a business and social media campaign that teaches women to find their voices and empower themselves through letter writing. Alix meets her future husband, Peter Chamberlain, around this time, and he is supportive of her business. Then Alix becomes pregnant with Briar. Though the couple has talked about returning to Philadelphia, Alix’s hometown, to raise their family, Alix is too excited about her business’s recent success to quit just yet. In fact, after Briar is born, Alix struggles to find motherhood rewarding. Not long after Briar’s birth, Alix becomes pregnant with Catherine, and the family moves to Philadelphia. In Philadelphia, Alix works from home, but she misses her friends and life in New York. Alix adores the newborn Catherine, who is calm and quiet—the opposite of Briar—but she struggles to balance caring for Briar with working on the book deal she’s recently been offered, so she hires Emira to care for Briar part-time.

Peter, meanwhile, is enjoying his new job as a local station news anchor. But things turn for the worse when he accidentally makes a racist and sexist comment on air. The comment leads some kids to throw eggs at the Chamberlains’ window, and it’s this act of vandalism that requires the Chamberlains to call the police—and compels Alix to call Emira and ask her to take care of Briar. And now, just as Alix has begun to settle into her new life, she fears that Emira will quit working for her once she finds out about Peter’s remark and decides he’s racist. That’s when Alix decides that she’s going to befriend and help Emira so that she wants to stick around.

Alix, still worried that Emira plans to quit, is surprised when Emira says she will still attend Briar’s birthday party as they’d planned—in fact, Emira is acting suspiciously normal. Emira arrives at the Chamberlains’ house later that day with a pet goldfish for Briar (Briar names the fish Spoons). Alix tries to talk to Emira about the Market Depot incident, but Emira insists that she just wants to forget about it. Most party guests are Peter’s coworkers and their children, and Alix feels immature (Peter is nearly a decade older) and lonely. Laney Thacker, Peter’s co-anchor, is kind to Alix, but Alix thinks Laney is corny and doesn’t think they’ll be friends.

Emira notices that Alix is trying to treat her more like a friend than an employee, but she refuses to play along. One night, when Emira is riding the subway to meet her friends for dinner, she runs into Kelley Copeland. He bugs her about the video, and Emira compromises by offering to let Kelley buy her a drink later that night, which he does. Emira and Kelley get drunk together and then return to Kelley’s apartment to have sex.

When time goes by and Alix’s attempts to befriend Emira remain unsuccessful, Alix starts to look at the notifications on Emira’s phone to learn more about her. Alix’s snooping reveals that Emira is seeing a new guy. One night, Alix opens a bottle of wine to get Emira to confide in her. To Alix’s delight, Emira admits that she’s seeing her new guy tonight. At their dinner that night, Kelley tells Emira that he dated the wealthiest girl in town when he was in high school—and that she was an entitled snob.

Meanwhile, Alix recalls a time she confided in her friends about her most embarrassing moment, which happened when she was in high school, around the time her parents won a lawsuit and became rich and snobby almost overnight. They also hired a Black woman, Claudette, to care for Alix and her sister Betheny. Alix (who went by Alex then) was ashamed of the people her parents had become. Around this time, she wrote her high school boyfriend an embarrassing love letter to ask him over while her parents were out of town. The boy showed the letter to Robbie Cormier, a popular kid in their school, and Robbie invited all his friends over, ruining Alex’s plans for a romantic evening. Enraged at her boyfriend’s betrayal, Alex called the police on the kids, ultimately leading to Robbie losing his college scholarship. Everyone, including Alex’s boyfriend, turned on Alex and accused her of being elitist and racist. (However, a flashback at the end of the book will ultimately reveal that Alix has known for years that Kelley had nothing to do with Robbie showing up, and she only continues to tell this story because it's easier than admitting she’s wrong.)

Back in the present, Spoons dies, and Alix tells Emira to pick up a replacement fish on her way over; Briar will never notice, and Briar’s tears would ruin the evening. Emira tries to protest—she and Briar had been looking forward to attending a Halloween recital at Briar’s ballet studio that day, and they will miss it if Emira has to stop by the pet store first. But Alix insists that Briar won’t care. Emira relents and picks up the fish. After work that night, Emira goes to her friend Shaunie’s apartment, where everyone is celebrating Shaunie’s recent promotion. But Emira is too exhausted from work and bitter over how easily good things seem to come to Shaunie to want to party with everyone.

Alix looks forward to having her friends over for Thanksgiving. Things get even better when Emira’s flight home is canceled due to winter weather. Thinking that this is her chance to finally make Emira feel like part of the family, Alix invites Emira and her new boyfriend over for Thanksgiving dinner. But the day is awkward: Kelley and Alix realize that they are each other’s high school ex, and their mutual connection to Emira creates tension. Though Emira is initially angry at Kelley for being rude to Alix, she sympathizes with him after he fills her in on what Alix did to Robbie.

After Thanksgiving, Alix spends some time in Manhattan, and she brings Catherine with her. Alix’s friends commiserate with her about the Kelley-Emira situation and help restore her confidence. Tamra also connects Alix with a professor friend who hires Alix to teach a weekly class in Manhattan next spring. Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, Emira enjoys her days alone with Briar, and they go on many adventures. After Alix returns from New York, she confronts Emira about Kelley, claiming that Kelley isn’t a great guy and is probably just dating Emira because he thinks that dating Black women will earn him social points. Emira takes offense and refuses to end things with Kelley.

After Emira leaves, Alix goes to Kelley’s work and confronts him about seeing Emira. In turn, Kelley accuses Alix of exploiting Emira. He claims that she’s no better than her awful parents, comparing the polo shirt “uniform” with LetHer Speak printed on it that Emira wears to the shirt with “Murphy” stitched across its back that her parents made Claudette wear. Alix leaves feeling defeated. When she gets home, she logs onto the computer and discovers that Emira has forgotten to log out of her email account. Then she finds the video recording Kelley sent Emira, downloads it onto her computer, and calls Laney Thacker to ask for a favor.

Emira celebrates her 26th birthday at a bar with her friends and Kelley. Everything is great—until Emira’s friends show her that somebody has published the video of the Market Depot incident online, and it’s quickly going viral. Emira is mortified. When Zara discovers that Kelley still has the video on his phone (earlier, he’d promised Emira he would delete it), Emira assumes that Kelley must have published the video. She leaves and breaks things off with Kelley.

The next day, Alix and her children visit Emira at home. Alix tells Emira about the class she’s teaching next semester and asks if Emira would like to babysit Briar full time; Emira agrees. Alix also asks Emira if she’ll agree to an interview with Laney Thacker to clear things up about the video, and Emira agrees again. Early Monday morning, Emira arrives at the Chamberlains’ house for the interview. Zara comes with her, and Alix’s friend Tamra is there, too. Emira and Zara go upstairs so Emira can get ready in the bathroom. Zara overhears Tamra telling Alix that Alix was right to release the Market Depot video. Shocked, Zara immediately delivers this news to Emira. Then she helps Emira negotiate a salary with benefits at the Green Party, Emira’s other job, which offered her a full-time position following the video’s release.

Emira derails the interview by quitting her babysitting job on live TV. Afterward, Emira says a tearful goodbye to Briar. Alix interrupts the moment to yell at Emira. She demands to know how Emira could humiliate her when she was only trying to help. Emira realizes that Alix will never understand and doesn’t bother to argue with her.

Emira works for the Green Party for just over a month after she quits her babysitting job. Then she works as an administrative assistant for Paula Christi, the regional director of the U.S. Census Bureau. It’s not a glamorous job, but Paula is a nice boss, and Emira is proud that she can finally support herself and afford to accompany her friends on a trip to Mexico. Sometime in the future, Emira will see Kelley at a farmer’s market—accompanied by a new Black girlfriend. She might have texted Alix about it in another life, but not in this one. Emira will also see Alix and her children at a Halloween parade. It still pains Emira to think about how she abandoned Briar. Now, she wonders whether Briar will grow up to become confident and self-assured—or whether she’ll simply pay somebody to figure things out for her, just like her mother before her.