I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Harlequin Teen on September 30th, 2014
Genres: historical, LGBT, young adult
Source: the publisher
In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.
Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.
Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town's most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept separate but equal.
Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.
Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley is a book that you want to talk about as you read. It would be perfect for a book club but I just found myself randomly commenting about things on social media. Raving about how wonderful, powerful and emotional it is. This is a book that every teen and adult should read. It should be required reading even, or at least very strongly encourage in the classroom. I know I learned about segregation and integration in school but I felt distanced from it. It was long ago and didn’t involve me. But if I’d read a fiction book, based on things that really happened (loosely- it’s a fictional story, but she did research) I would have connected with that history in a different way and it would have changed my life and how I thought about things so much more. As an adult I see that this is not even long ago! This was in my parents life time. My parents would have been young but my husbands parents actually went to high school when integration happened. So that thought of it was a long time ago is not so true. And to see how much things have changed! Yeah, more things need to change. There is still prejudice in the world. People are still not treated fairly. But if you read this book, or even just do a little research, you’ll see how much things have changed.
This book is about integration and the first black students at an all white school. It is about the bullying that happened, the things they had to go through every day. And this made me so FURIOUS. How can anyone treat another human being that way?! Even the adults were bad, turning a blind eye to the bullying. Sure there were a few that weren’t that way, but not many. And watching them go through all that was really hard. This book is also about a black girl and a white girl who fall in love. Maybe ‘love’ is a little strong of a word here, but that’s the only way I know to say it. In that time though it was hard for them to accept that. To believe it. They just figured something was wrong with them. And this was just regarding them being girls. Now when you put the race issue in there, there’s a whole other can of worms. It was unusual for a white girl and black girl to even sit together on a bus. To see them together would bring serious attention.
The book is in alternating POV”s. Sarah is the black student integrating. Linda is the white student who fights against the integration and eventually, very slowly, starts to see a different view point after having to study with Sarah regularly (forced by the teacher). I was surprised to see both view points but I was really glad in the end. I’m not sure I would have come around to Linda if I hadn’t been in her head and saw what she was really thinking. When I experienced the things she went through with her father and her friends. So it was quite clever to get both and see as things began to slowly change. Both girls were pleasant to read about but I really loved Sarah. How she’d hold her head high and wouldn’t let the taunting and physical abuse bring her down (at least appearing that way). She was brave and impossibly strong. I can’t imagine sitting there and doing nothing as someone stabs a pencil into your skin. Or as someone calls you horrible names or throws things at you. But if they reacted they were punished. So they had to ignore it. I would have completely broke down and ended up hurting someone.
This is a book that I will giving to everyone I know and encouraging them to read it. To remember a piece of history that we (white people anyway) tend to forget or just don’t pay attention to. Highly recommend!
Support this blog, use my affiliate links & Buy On Amazon or The Book Depository.
A Lambda Literary Fellow, Robin Talley grew up in Roanoke, VA, and now lives in Washington, DC, with her wife. When not writing or reading, Robin is planning communication strategies for a nonprofit that fights for equal rights. She brings her passion for words and for social justice to every page of LIES WE TELL OURSELVES. Find out more at http://www.robintalley.com/
One finished copy of Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
Provided by publisher
Open to US addresses only.