Author: Robin Talley
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: Historical Fiction, GLBT
Blurb: 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.
Me: A hastily chosen novel that ended up being incredibly provocative and powerful.
The Ups: I honestly picked up this novel because I loved the feeling of the cover. Yup, something as shallow as that. And I got super excited to bring it on my trip to Korea, since I knew I wouldn't be able to bring many books. (Love from Korea btw)
The book started off as any other school integration novel, strong in historical facts and hooking in characters. I really loved Sarah Dunbar as one of the main characters. She seemed very clever, honest, and strong-willed, a perfect girl to fight. But what made her even better was she didn't know it. She had her doubts and her flaws. The character arc she had was so interesting as well. She gained immense strength and a sense of self throughout the book
The other African American students with her, like Ruth, Paulie, Ennis and Chuck were amazing as well. I felt an immense connection to them and throughout the entire story I was asking myself, could I have done what they did? And I don't think I ever could've. They are so brave, so beautiful, and in the writing I could feel their struggle and the unfairness of it all. I wondered at the beginning. Could a white author living in modern times fully express the character of a black teenage girl in the 60's and make it genuine? I have to say Robin Talley has succeeded.
I started off reading this thinking it would just be a powerful story of the integration fight. And even at the beginning the book had strong potential and had already established connection with me as a reader. I then realized that the two main girls were feeling romantic feelings for each other and the story dived into a new area of depth.
There was just so much to block these girls from being themselves. Sarah was only seen as her color, and Linda had been raised to think a certain way about blacks and not dare think otherwise. Both of them, feeling things for each other in a world where interracial marriage was considered a crime and where for most the concept of two females loving each other hadn't even occurred to them
The book was just so brave and about such brave people. It really made me think about how fortunate we are now, but also about everything we still had to work for.
The Downs: That being said, there were certain things that bothered me about this book. First of all, Linda bothered me as a character. She was the opposite of understanding, and had a lot of bias. Even when she was falling for Sarah she refused to let her former thoughts go. I understand that that was how she was brought up, but after a while it started to really bother that me that after everything that happened, Linda was, even in the end, a racist.
I also felt like the romance was a bit ridiculous. I obviously could not connect to the romance as well as some people, because I am not GLBT. But the fact that these two could feel these things by arguing and debating and not anything else was weird. I didn't feel like the relationship was genuine.
Overall: A very powerful story that is pulled by strong characters and a sense of finding yourself.
Rating: 4 kisses!