Riley Wilson and Jen Murphy have been best friends since they were in kindergarten. Riley’s now back in Philadelphia after a stint in Birmingham and is a TV news reporter with a shot at the anchor seat. Jen is married and six months pregnant, working part time until her baby is born. Their relationship is tested, however, the night Jen’s husband Kevin, a city police officer, accidentally shoots an unarmed and innocent young black teenager. See, Riley is black and is covering the shooting; Jen is white and is terrified for her husband’s fate.
Five minutes into this story and I knew I was in for an uncomfortable and sad journey. The premise is brilliant because it sets up the most gut-wrenchingly honest exploration of every aspect of both sides of the issues. Riley and Jen learned there were boundaries they’d subconsciously created in their relationship that surfaced, threatening to permanently separate them. Riley was often surprised at how clueless Jen was about the racism she faced regularly and she was disappointed in Riley’s lack of understanding of her own circumstances. They were surrounded by family and others who were entrenched in their points of view, wanting them to choose a black or white side (analogy intended) when there were so many shades of gray and nuances.
This is a timely, relevant and powerfully presented story without easy solutions. What I loved was how Riley and Jen weren’t willing to completely abandon their friendship, even when it felt like it was what they were doing. I also liked that there were people close to them that reminded each that they had a valuable history. I listened to the story, which I believe elevated it to a stronger place, at least for me. The narrators for Riley and Jen were absolutely perfect in every way, including their expressions in emotional moments (anger, sadness, frustration, etc.). I hated the situations but loved that I was forced to face issues I needed to confront through these characters. What an outstanding performance and kudos to the writers for getting everything right, even though they didn’t have all the answers. Its honesty is stunning.
- Release Date: October 5, 2021
- Narrators: Marin Ireland, Shayna Small, Kevin R. Free & Chanté McCormick
- Audio Length: 11 hours, 43 minutes
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
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(Thanks to Simon & Schuster Audio for my complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.)