Review of Come and Get It: Kiley Reid’s second attempt at satire falls short.
What lengths would you be willing to go to in order to obtain the funds necessary to live your ideal life? This is the central question posed in Kiley Reid’s second novel, Come and Get It. While the focal point of Reid’s first book, the popular and relevant Such a Fun Age, was race relations, this new novel delves into the personal wealth (or lack thereof) of its characters as the driving force behind tension in their interactions. However, despite the focus on wealth, racism continues to be a prevalent issue in contemporary America, as seen through the experiences of Reid’s spirited characters.
Initially, the stakes appear to be less significant compared to Such a Fun Age. The first chapter of the book does not contain any threats of calling the police. Millie is a 24-year-old senior at the University of Arkansas, working as a resident assistant in the dorms. Her role is to assist with any issues that may arise in the halls. This is an important paid position for Millie as she aspires to buy her own home after being inspired by TV shows about tiny homes and young homeowners. However, she needs to save up for a downpayment.
Unexpected monetary aid comes in the shape of Agatha, a 37-year-old writer and guest lecturer. She meets Millie for the first time when she visits the dormitories to conduct interviews with a group of students for her upcoming book on weddings. Agatha has left Chicago and come to the university in order to get away from her own issue: the conclusion of a romantic relationship with a partner who relied on her financially.
During her initial interview, Agatha is struck by the three students’ callousness and their flippant attitudes towards money – or their parents’. Jenna, Tyler and Casey would make great characters, she thinks. So she and Millie devise a plan by which she can complete more research. Sitting on the floor in Millie’s bedroom, Agatha can hear everything that is said on the other side of the wall – the dorm where Jenna, Tyler and Casey hang out. For every covert visit, Agatha pays Millie $40 for her assistance. Agatha begins selling highly edited versions of these overheard conversations as “money diaries” to Teen Vogue.
The romantic relationship between Millie and Agatha turns intimate. This is concerning due to the unequal power dynamic. However, there are other parts of the book that may make readers cringe. Some of the conversations between Tyler and Jenna are discriminatory. “Awwww, look at her. Little Mexican bebe,” Tyler remarks as her friend wraps herself in a blanket. Jenna responds with, “I know. I’m just a cute little refugee over here.” This quote is sure to be included in one of Agatha’s articles. It is evident that Reid is aware of the ignorance displayed by these white, privileged roommates.
At times, Reid’s writing style can be comical. In one instance, she describes a student as looking like a backpack, which doesn’t make much sense. Later, she mentions an Aerosmith song playing in the background and it’s almost begging to become a meme. Additionally, Reid’s portrayal of Casey’s accent from Alabama, despite the author being from Los Angeles, feels like she is making fun of it: “Hey there…I’m Casey. I’m a senior at the University of Arkansas…and I’ll be turning 21 this Saturday.”
The story culminates in a highly unrealistic and aggressive dormitory scene. While delving into the financial worries of young females, Reid appropriately focuses on a significant but frequently overlooked subject. However, her portrayals often come across as exaggerated and ridiculous. What is the purpose of that?
Ellen Peirson-Hagger serves as the assistant culture editor for the New Statesman.