Book Review: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Lies We Tell Ourselves
Author: Robin Talley
Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Released: September 30, 2014
Review Source: Harlequin Teen

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

I have to admit that this was a really tough read for me. From page one, the realization that this book takes place during the time of segregation is apparent. The language that was used during that time for those of the African American race makes me sick to my stomach. It was a struggle to get through the first few chapters of the book, but I'm glad I kept going and didn't give up on it.

The book starts out introducing the character Sarah and the group of other black students who will be starting at Jefferson High School. From the first page, I knew that I was going to like her character. She was strong, but also weak. She is an intelligent character who has a deep love for her family. The best part about Talley's writing is that as the story goes on, the readers are able to peel back the layers of Sarah and really get to know her deeper.

You're also introduced to Linda, a white student whose known to be the daughter of a very vocal family who do not want Sarah and her friends to attend the school. Just like Sarah, you are able to see inside of her soul and really feel the things that she feels. There are times where I was angry with Linda, but then there were times where I cried for her as well.

Not only does the book delve into the discussion of racism, but Sarah and Linda's sexuality as well. I didn't know if I would be able to handle both the racism and LGBT aspect as well, but Talley does it in such a way that I found it to be a great addition to the story. The relationship they build together as the story goes on doesn't detract from the real issues of the story, but compliments it very well.

Overall, the book was difficult to read, but I'm glad I read it. YA readers out there need to see where we came from to see how far we have come. I wouldn't recommend this book to a middle school student, but I don't see a problem with a much older, mature high school student reading this one. It will definitely open your eyes.

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