Such a Fun Age and The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

Can we talk about Such a Fun Age? Like, what a mess!

Firstly, our move into the new house was not as smooth as expected. Things took longer than they were supposed to—specifically the painting and cable/internet—which delayed our unpacking and my being able to get my bedroom and office set up. The new house has horrible signal strength for cell phones, so wifi is imperative. More than six days of trying to do everything on my phone with a shotty signal. There were a lot of things I just could not get done.

But, and most importantly, I don’t have to listen to littles stomping on the ceiling all day and half the night anymore. It is super quiet out here (no street noise either), so it’s much easier to focus and reflect.

Anyway, back to what we’re here for!

The grocery store scene at the beginning of Such a Fun Age had me tense! I could feel my pressure rising and my blood starting to boil. I was livid—had to keep pausing to remind myself it was a book. But there are just too many instances like that in real life to dismiss it so easily. I was happy to move forward with the story, though.

Honestly, the story wasn’t terribly complicated. In short, them white folks were a mess! I’ve always found it weird to get close with an employer, even when we’re the same age, and the obsession Alex/Alix (like, Target/Tar-zhay… but I refuse to refer to her as Alix here) had with home girl was creepy. The interest ol’ boy had with Black people was mildly questionable. Honestly, though, I didn’t find Kelley’s behavior extreme. For me, it seemed he had an interest in the popular kids in general while in high school, not just the popular Black kids, but maybe I’m reading that wrong. Also, plenty of people have a preference around who they spend time with and who they date. He happened to like dating Black women, so let the man live! I have a relative who only dates white men, and she has her reasons for that, doesn’t mean she has an unnatural obsession with white people.

It seemed a lot of those accusations were Alex projecting her own challenges with race onto Kelley because he found his people and had been enjoying his life while she was busy trying to be fancy and interesting.

I did think the scene where Emira’s friend Zara went off on national TV was a bit much. Emira could have used that moment more cleverly to expose Alex’s shenanigans instead of just saying she wouldn’t be working with her family anymore and having her friend show out foolishly. But that’s not what she chose to do, so whatever.

I also think Alex’s Black friend was problematic in her own way. I don’t have much to say about her, but she definitely rubbed me the wrong way.

I will say this—I was hooked from the very beginning. I had to force myself to sleep because I wanted to keep reading to see what would happen next. It was a quick read just because I had such a difficult time putting it down. I borrowed it from Overdrive for 21 days and finished well before the expiration date.

Such a Fun Age is definitely worth the read.

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, however, took me almost two full 21-day check outs to complete. It’s not that the book was bad, it was just not as captivating as the other.

So, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is split into chapters titled for each of her children plus her granddaughter and tells much of the story of her life through stories of the lives of her children. Hattie was a hard woman. Staying with a man out of obligation rather than desire, plus losing her first babies so early in their lives (and hers) will do that to a woman, I guess. I don’t remember much of any of their stories (even though I finished this book two weeks ago or so), but I’ll give you what I can pull from the recesses of my mind.

Philadelphia and Jubilee: suffered pneumonia and died.

Floyd: slept around a bunch—mostly with women; sometimes with men.

Six: preached, but not of his own will.

Ruthie: was named Margaret and was not the child of Hattie’s husband.

Ella: was given to her aunt who had not been able to have children of her own.

Alice and Billups: Billups was molested, and Alice felt guilty all her life for not doing anything about it.

Franklin: stood guard while his military comrades buried mines in the sand on the enemy’s beach (had to look this one up as it wasn’t memorable).

Bell: intended to let TB kill her but was saved by her mother, even though she’d slept with the man with whom her mother cheated on her father when she was a child (had to look this one up as well).

Cassie: struggled with a mental health disorder—maybe schizophrenia.

Sala: Cassie’s daughter. Wanted to be with her mom, and knew something was off, but didn’t want to seem like she was taking her grandmother’s side.

The first story with the twins was very sad, and Hattie was so young at the time too. Ruthie’s story was more about Hattie than any of the others, and Ella’s story was more about her aunt and uncle. I don’t think I had a favorite chapter; they were all okay. If I had to pick one, though, it would probably be the first one. Hattie’s love for those babies ran deep—seemingly deeper than her love for her other children. Even though the chapter was sad, I really got to see Hattie as a person before she became a tired woman with a bunch of kids and a man who messed around like all his friends did.

I’m not sure what’s next on my reading list. I know I should finish one of the unreads on my shelf, but I also want to find something that’s been on my TBR list. I know I need to update my already-read list on the site—I’ll get there eventually. Promise.

What are yall reading now that it’s spring? Do you choose books based on the season or do you just read whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it?

Let me know. I’m always open to good book recommendations. And movies. I like watching movies too!

Happy reading!