’Such a Fun Age’ tackles parenthood, insidious racism
The relationship between a privileged white mom and her black babysitter is strained by race-related complications in Kiley Reid’s “Such a Fun Age.”
Blogger/role model/inspirational speaker Alix Chamberlain is none too happy about moving from Manhattan to Philadelphia for her husband Peter's job as a TV newscaster. With no friends or in-laws around to help out with her almost-3-year-old, Briar, and infant, Catherine, she’ll never get anywhere on the book she’s writing unless she hires a sitter. She strikes gold when she finds Emira Tucker. Twenty-five-year-old Emira’s family and friends expect her to get going on a career, but outside the fact that she’s about to get kicked off her parents’ health insurance, she’s happy with her part-time gigs — and Briar is her "favorite little human." Then one day a double-header of racist events topples the apple cart — Emira is stopped by a security guard who thinks she's kidnapped Briar, and when Peter's program shows a segment on the unusual ways teenagers ask their dates to the prom, he blurts out, "Let's hope that last one asked her father first" about a black boy hoping to go with a white girl. Alix’s combination of awkwardness and obsession with regard to Emira spins out of control and then is complicated by the reappearance of someone from her past (coincidence alert), where lies yet another racist event. Reid’s debut sparkles with sharp observations and perfect details — food, décor, clothes, social media, etc. — and she’s a dialogue genius. For about two-thirds of the book, her evenhandedness with her varied cast of characters is impressive, but there’s a point at which any possible empathy for Alix disappears. Not only is she shallow, entitled, unknowingly racist and a bad mother, but she has not progressed one millimeter since high school, and even then she was worse than we thought.
Charming, challenging, and so interesting you can hardly put it down.
A thrilling paranormal romance
In Jayne Ann Krentz’s “The Vanishing,” two women who witnessed a murder in their hometown as teens are suddenly targets of an unknown enemy. As the danger rises, a mysterious investigator with ties to an organization devoted to the paranormal steps in to help.
Catalina Lark and Olivia LeClair were 16 when they were exploring the caves around the tiny Pacific Northwest town of Fogg Lake. Fifteen years before, an incident in the caves had led to a large percentage of the population showing paranormal abilities. Fogg Lake residents became extremely wary of strangers, and the town's children were “raised with a degree of caution that bordered on paranoia.” That watchfulness may have saved the girls' lives the night they witnessed a murder in the caves. Years later, Catalina and Olivia have left home to start a private investigation agency in Seattle, and while they don’t advertise their psychic talents, they do use them in their cases. Then Olivia mysteriously disappears. Catalina is just beginning to search for her when Slater Arganbright arrives in the city. Catalina once worked with Slater’s uncle, Victor, the head of an “enterprise dedicated to paranormal research,” but it ended badly, so she’s not thrilled to meet his nephew. However as the two gather information, it begins to look like Olivia’s disappearance is connected to the murder the women witnessed as teens and may be tied to a frightening plot to weaponize paranormal power. Saving Olivia will depend on Catalina's and Slater's talents, and working together makes them realize what great partners they are. Krentz shows her wizardry for worldbuilding and once again incorporates paranormal elements, which will thrill fans.
A smart, creative series start from a romance master who always entertains.
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