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.
Two young women, who are as different as night and day, have grown up in two different worlds. As their world's begin to collide, a lot more than sparks begin to ignite between them. Linda is a privileged white girl and Sarah is one of the first African American girls to set foot in an all-white privileged school. It's hard to find anything likable about Linda in the first half of the book, but at the same time you begin to realize that you can't necessarily blame her for her attitude. It's an attitude that is learned from her parents, her peers, and their parents as well. In some ways, as you read through her story, you will start to understand that she's just as much a victim in her own way as Sarah is.
Growing up in a home where she is ignored by her father and often times criticized as well as repressed, Linda knows there is something different about her and she's terrified of it. She is terrified of change and to speak out against it, but once she meets Sarah and the two argue constantly as much as they get to know one another in all of the little ways that counts, she begins to realize that maybe what she's been taught to believe isn't right and that change starts within and only you can do that for yourself if you're brave enough. The way she's been taught to view the world starts to make less sense to her and you can start to see the changes in her attitude shift slowly throughout the story being told.
Sarah is this amazingly strong, beautiful, talented, and courageously brave young African American woman who is attending this all-white privileged school. The strength she possesses is awe-inspiring and incredibly amazing, in the face of what she has to go through as she attends this school that doesn't want her or anyone of her kind there. Despite the number of times the rest of the students that attend this school try and make her existence there as miserable as possible, Sarah stands up to it and she endures it, and she never lets it break her. She's not afraid to speak her mind, when she witnesses the injustice that happens to the rest of the African American students that have integrated and she does everything humanly possible to protect her younger sister Ruth, so that she doesn't have to endure it to the extremes that she has herself.
Lies We Tell Ourselves is an eye-opening, heartbreaking, and beautifully written novel that will leave an everlasting impression on you. The courage and integrity that went into this story, is incredibly awe-inspiring that it will leave you feeling all of the emotions as you try and sort through them. There is a definite need for more books like these written in both the YA and NA world of literature. It doesn't just touch on what it was like during the Civil Rights movement, when integration was first coming into existence and it doesn't just touch on racism, it also touches on LGBTQ rights as well. Robin Talley did a marvelous job at showing us how these two beautiful young women navigated the muddy waters of integration and dealing with the fact that they are both attracted to girls instead of boys, let alone each other. I find it incredibly hard to put into words how much I enjoyed reading this book and just how inspired I was by it.
There were just so many incredibly sad moments that broke my heart into a million pieces and some truly wonderful surprises within the pages of this beautiful book, that I know without a doubt is a story that will stay with me forever. It is something that made me stop and think twice, as I read all of the horrible miserable things that Sarah endure and as I sat there trying to understand where Linda was coming from. There were also some incredibly powerful moments within the story as well, that can and will offer hope to anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation. I don't know how and I honestly don't know why just yet, but I feel as if there are some wonderful healing power contained within the pages of this book. This is a book that I would love to see as assigned reading curriculum in schools nation-wide, because I believe it is that important.
About Robin Talley
Robin Talley grew up in Roanoke, Virginia, and escaped to Washington, D.C., at the first opportunity. She now lives with her wife, their antisocial cat, and their goofy hound dog on Capitol Hill and work for a progressive nonprofit organization. She spends her nights and weekends writing young adult fiction about LGBT characters, reading books, and enjoying The Daenerys Show (you may know it as Game of Thrones).
Her first novel, Lies We Tell Ourselves, was released September 30, 2014, by Harlequin Teen. It's set in 1959 Virginia, and it's about a black girl who's one of the first to integrate an all-white high school, and the white girl with whom she ultimately falls in love. Her next book, Unbreakable, follows a high school couple -- Gretchen, who identifies as a lesbian, and Toni, who identifies as genderqueer -- whose relationship is tested when they're separated for their first year of college.