RaveThe Washington PostWhen I opened Brendan Slocumb’s debut novel, The Violin Conspiracy, I was immediately transported to a place I’d never been, surrounded by characters I’d never met. In the crowded world of fiction, that’s no small accomplishment. Taking inspiration from his day job as a music teacher, Slocumb has orchestrated an engaging and suspenseful story about an aspiring musician and his great-great-grandfather’s violin ... so wonderfully written, especially its descriptions of music, that at times I questioned whether I was reading or listening to a concert; the notes in Bach’s Chaconne or Mozart’s Violin Sonata No. 21 in E Minor practically floated up from the pages. Slocumb is equally adept at suspense, whether he’s conveying the ticktock of the main mystery or the heart-pounding, fist-clenching realities Ray has to face as a young Black man in America. This novel, which will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very last page, is sure to be a favorite in 2022.
Christine Pride and Jo Piazza
RaveThe Washington PostThe heartbreak of the prologue was all too familiar — an unarmed Black teen, shot dead by a White police officer. And that is only the beginning of this emotional literary roller coaster ... 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 lines. Perhaps these books will foster deeper discussions between Black and White readers and begin to heal the divide that burdens this country. Still, as much as I enjoyed reading We Are Not Like Them, and as much as I loved writing Stand Your Ground, my prayer is that one day this country will reach the point where novels such as these will come to be wholly imaginary rather than ripped from the headlines. Until then, it 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.