REVIEW: We Are Not Like Them
Special thanks to my local independent bookstore, Snail on the Wall, and the publisher, Atria Books, for a copy of this book to review! This book published in February 2021, and is available now!
Riley and Jen are best friends. Have been since Kindergarten. Nothing has been able to tear them apart...yet. Then Jen's husband (a police officer) is involved in a shooting on the job of a young Black boy. This raises all the racial tensions Riley and Jen have never discussed. Will their relationship survive?
This book was meant to spark discussion. It brings up all the hot button topics currently, and would be a perfect book club choice. It's no wonder it was picked up by the GMA Book Club in October of 2021. The dual timeline is so unique as it flashes between Riley's and Jen's points of view, written by real life friends Christine Pride and Jo Piazza. It's obvious each of these authors are gifted in writing. Each perspective had so many elements that made it easy to picture the tone the dialogue was delivered as well as the scene itself. They really made you feel the emotions each character was facing.
One of my favorite characters was Gigi, and unfortunately we didn't get very much of her throughout the story. I could just imagine her doling out her wisdom to both Riley and Jen from the time they were very young all the way through when this terrible thing happened. She saw the beauty in their relationship, and wanted them to be able to work through it in spite of everything she has seen and experienced in her lifetime. I imagine her to be someone who would talk and laugh with you for hours, but always be willing to shoot it to you straight when necessary.
I will add in that Jen's character was beyond naive. She was absolutely clueless when it came to her relationship with Riley, and it was cringeworthy. As a white woman myself, I hope my own attitude doesn't reflect hers, and that I'm a bit more aware in my relationships. She grew a lot in the novel, but still has a long way to go.
This was not an easy read, and it stirred a lot of emotion within me (especially in light of everything that happened in 2020 and 2021). While I do think reading books like these are great for sparking discussions that probably need to happen more often, I really hope things don't stop there. I hope I don't stop there. I hope each person feels that I would confront the lie, treat them with respect and dignity, fight for change, and help everyone to have a better tomorrow.
Content Warnings: racial aggression, micro-agression, murder by law enforcement, lynching, miscarriage, IVF