BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS with Sue Giustino

by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza

Striving for realistic perspectives of a very real- ripped from the headlines- topic, the co-authors, Pride, who is Black, and Piazza, who is White, present both sides of one of the most prevalent concerns of our day. With extreme finesse, they tell the story of two lifelong friends: Riley (Black), an ambitious journalist who recently moved back to her hometown, and Jen (white) who is the pregnant wife of a police officer. Through the years, although they have chosen very different life paths, the two women have remained as close as sisters. Their friendship suddenly becomes strained when Jen’s husband, Kevin, is involved in a police shooting of an unarmed Black teen. Morality, value of friendship, harsh judgements…all become challenges not just for their friendship, but also the community as a whole.

Although it opens from the perspective of the teen who gets shot, this novel focuses mainly on the relationship of the women, while only touching the surface of the victim and his family. This being said, alternating between Riley’s and Jen’s perspectives, the voice of each author does depict many of the opposing opinions on this topic. In addition, the characters thoughts create a sense of self-reflection; taking the reader along on their journey as each individually assess their past and question the level of understanding they have of the other’s situation, as well as their friendship as a whole.

We are Not Like Them, is a book not unlike others, which encourage readers to examine their own hearts and thoughts about this and other such topics that so deeply divides our country. Plots like this should challenge a reader to not only self-reflect, but hopefully to share the ideas with others, hence fostering discussions and deeper understanding of differing experiences and perspectives.

Recently, the book club that I am a part of read it- as one could imagine, the opinions on the topic as well as the characters themselves varied widely; as they usually do with a group of eight women. I find that it’s always interesting to learn the views of others, but a note of warning; a discussion about this book could entice strong opposing opinions- which as we know, everyone has and is entitled to. Please listen to and be kind to each other. Hearing and sharing ideas should be a way of broadening understanding and maybe even smoothing some of the divisions we live with each day.

Since the inception of this column, just over a year ago, I have received many interesting e-mails from readers. Some telling me that they enjoy reding about the different books and authors I choose, others suggesting titles, and even authors sharing their own books for me to read and write about. Please feel free to contact me with your ideas and thoughts, or even submit a review of your own that I could include in this column.  Thanks for Reading, Sue.