Summary and book reviews of We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride

We Are Not Like Them

A Novel

by Christine Pride, Jo Piazza

We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride, Jo Piazza X
We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride, Jo Piazza
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Oct 2021, 336 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
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About this Book

Book Summary

Told from alternating perspectives, an evocative and riveting novel about the lifelong bond between two women, one Black and one white, whose friendship is indelibly altered by a tragic event—a powerful and poignant exploration of race in America today and its devastating impact on ordinary lives.

Jen and Riley have been best friends since kindergarten. As adults, they remain as close as sisters, though their lives have taken different directions. Jen married young, and after years of trying, is finally pregnant. Riley pursued her childhood dream of becoming a television journalist and is poised to become one of the first Black female anchors of the top news channel in their hometown of Philadelphia.

But the deep bond they share is severely tested when Jen's husband, a city police officer, is involved in the shooting of an unarmed Black teenager. Six months pregnant, Jen is in freefall as her future, her husband's freedom, and her friendship with Riley are thrown into uncertainty. Covering this career-making story, Riley wrestles with the implications of this tragic incident for her Black community, her ambitions, and her relationship with her lifelong friend.

Like Tayari Jones's An American Marriage and Jodi Picoult's Small Great Things, We Are Not Like Them explores complex questions of race and how they pervade and shape our most intimate spaces in a deeply divided world. But at its heart, it's a story of enduring friendship—a love that defies the odds even as it faces its most difficult challenges.

Chapter Four

Shaun's words are a sucker punch to my gut. It takes everything I have not to turn and bolt out the door. Coming here was a mistake, I see that now, but I can't leave. I can't do anything except slink into the booth across from Riley, who stares at me like I'm a stranger. She's waiting for me to say something, face as blank as an empty canvas. I have no idea what to say. I'm sorry? But what am I sorry for exactly, and why am I apologizing to Riley?

Finally, almost like she's taking pity on me, she says, "How are you?"

I didn't know what to expect; she hasn't returned any of my calls this weekend, but her concern is such a mercy that I feel a flicker of hope.

"I'm okay, I guess. But ... it doesn't matter how I feel." I sound like a martyr, but there are more important things I want to explain. I plant my damp palms on the table, ready to launch into the speech I practiced a thousand times on the way over.

"Listen, Rye, Kevin thought he was chasing a guy who had just shot ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. What emotions did you experience while reading the prologue? Why do you think the authors chose to open with this scene?
  2. How did you interpret Kevin's behaviors after the incident? Did you feel any sympathy for him, and do you think he deserved everything that happened after? Who do you blame for what happened?
  3. Did you find yourself torn over how to feel about any of the characters' reactions or decisions in the novel? What moments were particularly controversial to you, and how did they challenge your perceptions?
  4. Discuss how this novel exhibits instances of prejudice based on privilege, class, and race. What about instances of unconscious bias?
  5. Riley says to Jen: "I didn't want to be the Black girl always talking about race. That's ...
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BookBrowse Review


Pride, who is Black, and Piazza, who is white, present a relatively balanced view of how people of different races might approach a tragedy such as this one. I appreciated their nuanced portrayal of Jen, who comes across as a sweet, well-meaning person who is clueless about her friend's experiences of racism. While both points of view resonated deeply with me, it was Riley's that forced me, as a white woman, to reevaluate my thoughts and actions towards people of color...continued

Full Review Members Only (725 words).

(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

Media Reviews

[A] propulsive, deeply felt tale of race and friendship.

Entertainment Weekly
One of the fall's most anticipated titles, a buzzy novel that's been making waves in book circles for months.

Washington Post
Pride and Piazza explore race and friendship with candor...I'm grateful for books like We Are Not Like Them — books with plots that dare us to look into our own hearts, then to challenge one another as we discuss the story is important for these kinds of books to be written and published and promoted by Black authors and White authors alike. Every voice on this topic must be heard.

New York Times
The characters comprehend and confront little about their own bond, and thus, so does the novel. There are many intriguing facets of this relationship that might have further been explored, including the fraught, delicate class tensions between them...The characters dispense the usual talking points, and the dialogue yields evidence of a divided America for any reader who isn't yet convinced.

Publishers Weekly
Blistering and incisive... This character-driven novel ought to spark much discussion.

Kirkus Reviews
With its timely premise, clear-cut messages, and appealing female characters, this novel is bound for book-club glory.

Booklist (starred review)
Coauthors Pride and Piazza explore how the sanctity of childhood friendship can be questioned and corrupted well into adulthood, and how violent racial injustice is ubiquitous in American life. We Are Not Like Them is spellbinding from cover to cover.

Author Blurb Attica Locke, New York Times bestselling author of Heaven, My Home
We Are Not Like Them is a tender and unexpected way into our national debate about policing, by centering an authentically drawn friendship between a black woman and a white woman who find themselves, through no fault of their own, on opposite sides of the emotional fallout of a police shooting...Beautifully heartfelt, Christine Pride and Jo Piazza's book finds hope in the friends' love for one another, that with understanding there may be a way forward.

Author Blurb Laura Dave, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Thing He Told Me
We Are Not Like Them, Christine Pride and Jo Piazza's gripping novel, is a powerful story about friendship, race, love, forgiveness, and justice—and the stunning ways they intersect. You will find yourself reading late into the night, needing to know what happens to best friends Riley and Jen, and simultaneously not wanting their story to end. Empathetic, riveting, and authentic.

Author Blurb Terry Mcmillan, New York Times bestselling author of It's Not All Downhill from Here
Now these women, they can WRITE!

Author Blurb Greer Hendricks, New York Times bestselling coauthor of The Wife Between Us
We Are Not Like Them is the best kind of book, one that manages to educate readers as it entertains them. Riveting, timely and honest, this powerful page-turner explores the complexity of friendship and race — and will stay with you long after its stunning conclusion.

Author Blurb Emily Giffin, New York Times bestselling author of The Lies That Bind
Smart, heartfelt and compulsively readable, We Are Not Like Them is an exquisite portrait of female friendship and a provocative exploration about race...A sharp, timely, and soul-satisfying novel that is sure to spark lively book club conversations worldwide.

Author Blurb Allison Winn Scotch, bestselling author of Cleo McDougal Regrets Nothing
A timely, evocative read about what tests us as friends, as partners, and ultimately, as humans, and will have you rethinking your own perspectives and experiences. A perfect read for 2021.

Author Blurb Nancy Johnson, author of The Kindest Lie
A searing, timely exploration of race in America along the fault lines of a friendship. We Are Not Like Them holds a mirror up to all of us in this soul-stirring tale of honesty, love, and redemption.

Author Blurb Laura Zigman, author of Separation Anxiety
Uniquely told by two writers, one black and one white, who themselves know the painful complexities of race and friendship, We Are Not Like Them is a moving page-turner that is not easily forgotten. I read this in one sitting and I'm still thinking about this book.

Author Blurb De'Shawn Charles Winslow, author of In West Mills
With We Are Not Like Them, Christine Pride and Jo Piazza have written a captivating, urgent, yet tender novel about how the world so often has its way with our family and friendships. Read this book with a friend.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum

Steel monuments featuring names of lynching victimsA key scene in We Are Not Like Them occurs when one character impulsively stops at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and its associated Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama.

Both the memorial and the museum were created as a result of efforts by the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) to honor those Black Americans who were enslaved, terrorized by lynching, those who suffered racial segregation, and individuals who are "burdened with contemporary presumptions of guilt and police violence." Formed in 1989 by Bryan Stevenson (a public interest lawyer and the author of Just Mercy), EJI's efforts are focused in three main areas: criminal justice reform, racial justice and public education. Work on the memorial began in 2010 as EJI ...

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