Stop me if you saw this on Twitter, a young African America woman and her bestie are in a grocery store late at night with a white toddler. The women, dressed as women in their early 20’s dress for a night out, are dancing with the toddler. A middle-aged female customer and store security detain the women and call the cops because they don’t “feel” right about the situation and do not believe that one of the women is really the child’s babysitter.
So begins the novel about an adorable toddler Briar, her baby sitter Emira, the child’s mother Alix (uh-leeks) and Kelley, the white male who films the action at the grocery store and then begins dating Emira.
At first I was not sure what to make of this story and I was not sure that I liked where it was going. Alix is an “Influencer” who may have thousands of followers, but is not likeable. I jokingly started making up alternate names for the book, “My Black Babysitter Thinks I’m Cool” or “Influencer Solves Racism!”
Now that I have the snark out of my system, I can say I really warmed up to the excellent narration and truly enjoyed the audio version of the story. Kiley Reid has created a first novel that works on many levels. On one level it is chick lit and on another it is an exploration of class and race. On the surface it is a story about influencers and building a life that appears to be affluent, full and perfect. A deeper dive shows the cracks in the body armor and how people will do crazy things to hide the truth to keep up an image of perfection and/or wokeness.
The relationship between Emira and Briar is endearing and meaningful. It is the heart of the book.
The headline grabbing and influencer involvement may or may not be realistic, but I think the examination of white reactions and rationalizations is based in truth. It is hard to let armor crack and the truth to seep in and out.
I can’t resist one more, “Woke Boyfriend never “sees” ME.”
This Gen Xer recommends this Millennial satire as a listen or read. It is like an after school special, you’ll have fun while you learn. Ok, this is my last one, “Paris Hilton named head writer of “Blackish””