Wow. This is a heavy, powerful book. We Are Not Like Them is a contemporary fiction novel written by two friends, Christine Pride and Jo Piazza. I have not read many books written by two authors, but We Are Not Like Them has an incredible flow and consistency to it that surprised me that it was written by two different people. The story is a tough one and one that sadly, is all too well known here in the US. Jen's husband, Kevin, shoots and kills an unarmed Black boy while working as a police officer in Philadelphia. Jen's best friend, Riley, is setting to become one of the first Black female anchors in a top news channel in the city and is assigned to cover the story. Jen and Riley have been best friends since grade school, but this tragic event and death of a young, innocent Black boy will test their friendship and push them to having long overdue conversations about race, privilege and class.
We Are Not Like Them is riveting, uncomfortable, heartbreaking, honest and timely. The story is told from alternating perspectives of both women and dredges up the deep-rooted issues and feelings that revolve around race and police shootings in our country. It is impossible to listen to each woman's inner dialogue and not have a deeper understanding for why we need to be having these conversations more. They say the best way to learn empathy is to walk a mile in another's shoes. We Are Not Like Them takes that saying and flips it on its head.
I highly recommend the audiobook which has two narrators that truly bring these characters to life. It is not hard to imagine this scenario as it is one that we see on our TVs constantly and one that was rocking the nation while the authors worked on this book. All I could think as I read was the perspective of families all over the country who get that dreaded call that their child has been shot by the police and may not survive. It sickens me to even think about, but as uncomfortable as it is, we need to read these stories, sit with these feelings and have these conversations in order to make any meaningful change. We Are Not Like Them would be an impactful book club choice and has plenty to unpack and digest in a group setting.
“So maybe the marching, rallying, showing up, it serves a purpose. It says, We will not be invisible or afraid. We will not give up. And that’s not nothing. It might actually be everything.”
“It kills me how some people want so badly to believe racism is buried beneath layers and layers of history, “ancient history,” they say. But it’s not. It’s like an umpire brushing the thinnest layer of dirt off home plate: it’s right there.”