ARC Book Review: Lies We Tell Ourselves

Lies We Tell Ourselves CoverBook: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Expected Publication is September 30, 2014 by Harlequin Teen|Expected Number Of Pages: 376

Where I Got It: I got a digital advanced copy from, which hasn’t influenced my review in any way.  Promise!

Series: None

Genre: YA Historical Fiction- Civils Rights/GLBT

You can find Lies We Tell Ourselves on goodreads & Robin Talley on Twitter, Facebook, and her website

Goodreads Summary: 

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.

What I Thought:

Lies We Tells Ourselves is such a great book!  I definitely recommend, and I’m so glad I read it!

It’s so realistic, and even though the book is fiction, it’s something I can picture happening.  I really liked the changes that Linda had to deal with, and I liked that she did change her mind as she spent more time with Sarah, and after a few events that she witnessed since her school had to integrate. As for Sarah, I felt like her story and personal growth didn’t happen to the degree that it happened with Linda, and that she didn’t really seem to get why integration was so hard for her classmates.

I love that both girls narrated the story, because you got to see both sides of the story, and that it’s not focused on side. Anytime I read a book that focuses on desegregating schools, I’m really struck by the fact that it really wasn’t that long ago that it happened- and that it’s a story that’s still relevant today.  There’s no doubt that some schools still get so much less than others, and that there is still a lot of tension in terms of race.  We’ve come a long way since than, but we still have a ways to go.

It really was hard to read at times, knowing that the things that happened in the book were things that happened, and it made me so angry at people.  But I also found myself rooting for Sarah and Linda because I wanted Sarah to be who she was.  It’s the same with Linda, and I was glad to see her change her mind.  It really is a good reminder that things were bad, and that they were a lot worse in some parts of the country.

I also liked seeing Linda and Sarah deal with their feelings for each other.  It worked so well with everything else going on, and it made the story much more interesting.  It’s not something I normally think of when it comes to integrating schools, but it did add something that I can’t place my finger on or even begin to describe.  Still, I think one of the big reasons why it worked so well is that you really see how far we’ve come on for so many things.

Each chapter started off with a lie, and I thought that brought everything together so well, because you got such a good picture of the different challenges that the characters faced throughout the book.  I also liked that Ruth, Sarah’s younger sister, narrated a chapter at the end of the book.  It would have been interesting to see her narrate part of the book, but I liked that she narrated a chapter because you really get the sense that it’s all going to be worth it in the end, and that everything they went through that year meant something.

Let’s Rate It:

I really liked Lies We Tell Ourselves!  It was predictable but I didn’t mind because the characters are memorable, and a lot of what happened was so horrifying because it’s so recent and vivid.  I didn’t fall in love with it, but it’s such an important read. Lies We Tell Ourselves gets 4 stars.

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