Book club questions for We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza provides an in-depth look at this novel about racial injustice and friendship. There will be spoilers so for more context about the book, check out my spoiler-free review first.
This is a fantastic novel! Emotional, heartbreaking and full of so much truth. It’s a fiction story but everything about it felt so real. It’s one I’ll be thinking about for a long time.
I thought the authors—Christine Pride and Jo Piazza—really painted the picture of both Riley and Jen’s very different circumstances. Both characters received equal play and the book doesn’t ask you to take sides but to see each of their different perspectives. A very honest and raw novel.
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.
Book Club Questions for We Are Not Like Them
- What is the title of the novel addressing?
- Why was it important for the authors to start the book from Justin’s perspective after he got shot?
- Did you like that we read both of Riley and Jen’s viewpoints? How did it help shape your perspective of key events that took place in the novel?
- What’s your impression of Riley and Jen’s friendship? How has this friendship change as adults? Do you have a friendship like that in your life?
- The shooting of Justin changes everything. Let’s first talk about how it impacted Riley and Jen separately.
- Why was Riley compelled to cover the story? Should she have mentioned her relationship with Jen?
- The shooting forces Riley to realize that she hasn’t always been honest to herself and especially to Jen about the struggles she goes through. How did this put a crack in Riley’s perfection veneer?
- Why did Riley change her name?
- When Riley confronts Jen about past comments and actions, Jen remarks that she doesn’t see race when it comes to Riley. Let’s talk about why that is a problematic viewpoint.
- Let’s discuss Jen’s journey to becoming a mother. How did everything change for her after Chase was born?
- Riley broke up with Corey, her white boyfriend, because of race and their different backgrounds. She eventually realizes that she’s closed herself off to love because of what she feels is expected of her. Let’s discuss the pressure Riley was under (both from others and herself). Do you think her and Corey will last?
- Kevin shot Justin after his partner did and realized right away the tragic mistake he made. However, he’s at first hesitant to testify against his partner because of the ‘police code.’ What are your thoughts on this? What made him change his mind in the end?
- Jen and Kevin decide to leave Philadelphia and move to Florida with their son. In many ways, it seems the friendship between her and Riley works better when it’s long distance. Will they remain friends?
- The book starts with Justin’s shooting and ends with his mother, Tamara, as she tries to learn to live with grief. What did you feel as you read the story from Tamara’s perspective in the end?
- There is so much covered in this novel about racial injustice. What have you learned about society and your own perspective since 2020 and the murder of George Floyd?
Hope you enjoyed book club questions for We Are Not Like Them! Here are some more recommendations along with links to book club questions.
The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson
The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson is an impactful story about motherhood and race.
It’s 2008, and the inauguration of President Barack Obama ushers in a new kind of hope. In Chicago, Ruth Tuttle, an Ivy-League educated Black engineer, is married to a kind and successful man. He’s eager to start a family, but Ruth is uncertain. She has never gotten over the baby she gave birth to—and was forced to leave behind—when she was a teenager. She had promised her family she’d never look back, but Ruth knows that to move forward, she must make peace with the past.
Returning home, Ruth discovers the Indiana factory town of her youth is plagued by unemployment, racism, and despair. As she begins digging into the past, she unexpectedly befriends Midnight, a young white boy who is also adrift and looking for connection. Just as Ruth is about to uncover a burning secret her family desperately wants to keep hidden, a traumatic incident strains the town’s already searing racial tensions, sending Ruth and Midnight on a collision course that could upend both their lives.
Powerful and revealing, The Kindest Lie captures the heartbreaking divide between Black and white communities and offers both an unflinching view of motherhood in contemporary America and the never-ending quest to achieve the American Dream.
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris is a very unique novel. Highly recommend!
Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and microaggressions, she’s thrilled when Harlem-born and bred Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events elevates Hazel to Office Darling, and Nella is left in the dust.
Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW.
It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realizes that there’s a lot more at stake than just her career.
A whip-smart and dynamic thriller and sly social commentary that is perfect for anyone who has ever felt manipulated, threatened, or overlooked in the workplace, The Other Black Girl will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.