We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza
Christine Pride and Jo Piazza are two authors who have worked together to create something remarkable. We Are Not Like Them is a story illustrating the perspectives of the two women whose long-term friendship is threatened by racial conflict.
Jenny and Riley have been best friends since childhood and have managed to maintain their bond despite differences in race, education and social status: “I know her face like I know my own”. Everything changes when Jenny’s husband, an American police officer on duty, kills an innocent black teenager. The situation quickly attracts public attention, developing into a large-scale conflict, and the two friends find themselves on opposite sides of the barricades.
The authors carefully examine the psychology of the characters, alternately penetrating the minds of Riley and Jenny and showing the situation from different points of view. Despite the long-term relationship, there are still painful racial undertones between the women. Pride and Piazza not only raise questions of contemporary racism but delve deeper into the roots of the intergenerational trauma, the gloom of which continues to hang over American society: “But deeper than that, bone-deep, there’s a dark hum, pain like a shadow, the ancestral trauma that lives in me”.
“When I was four, I asked my mum when I would turn white because all the good people on TV were white, and all the villains were black and brown,” writes Reni Eddo-Lodge in Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, “My mum still remembers the crestfallen look on my face when she told me the bad news.” Echoing the conversation about whiteness as a universal standard, We Are Not Like Them deeply and carefully explores the feelings of the black heroine, her attitude to herself and the people around her, raising questions about false standards of beauty, the influence of toxic history, and the difficulties of interracial relationships: “Dating a white man – marrying one, if it came to that – felt disloyal”.
On the other hand, the book also shares the perspective of the white heroine, who is going through a difficult time due to pregnancy and bullying. The authors masterfully portray the mindset of Jenny, whose perception contrasts with the vision of her dark-skinned friend: “Why did I have to bring up race? It’s never mattered between the two of us”.
Despite its many sensitive social themes, the novel is still incredibly engaging, making the reader keenly follow the plot twists and empathise with the characters. This book carries with it many important messages, the layers sliding over one another, like an onion, revealing an even more powerful core. We Are Not Like Them about friendship, love, the importance of family, and generational ties – an absolute must-read.
We Are Not Like Them is published by HarperCollins at the hardback price of £14.99 on 14th October 2021. For further information visit here.