Book review: Lies We Tell Ourselves (by Robin Talley)

Title: Lies We Tell Ourselves
Author: Robin Talley
Page count: 368 pages (hardback)
Rating: 4/5 stars

Trigger warnings for the book: abuse, racism, violence, blood, domestic abuse
Spoilers in this review: just one, and there is a warning preceding it. The spoiler looks like this.

So, with a majority of people preparing for Valentine`s, if the media is to be believed, I think this is great timing to talk about a romance novel.


Goodreads 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.

Now, this book. Let me tell you about this book, right. Yes, I know that`s what this blog is for, now hush.

This book is pretty great.

Is it perfect? No. The writing is quite simple. There is no obvious difference in character between the two main characters. It starts off a bit slow, but it does pick up speed later on. It`s good, just not mind-blowingly good like, say, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, or Harry Potter.

Not that any of that stopped me from reading it almost in one go. In fact, I ended up finishing it at 2AM because I just couldn`t put it down.

This book is, as far as I know (and I`ll readily admit I`m fairly ignorant about these topics) a good representation of some of the struggles African Americans went through just to be able to get proper education in the United States in the 1950`s. Combine that with LGBT themes – even if they are somehow hardly addressed – and you have a very dangerous combination for that time.

It is very weird for me to think that stuff like the abuse Sarah and her friends go through really did happen and in some places was even worse. It`s even weirder to think that it still exists. I mean, there`s blatant racism in the Netherlands, but this is just insane.

As far as (probably) middle-grade books with good messages and good diversity go, this one is a very good one that I definitely recommend to interested people.

In fact, I recommend this to anyone who is ok with fairly simple use of language, even if just because this a book about very important topics, with an LGBT pairing AND – SPOILER ALERTa happy ending. The part where they`re interracial in a time of extreme discrimination takes a bigger role than the part where they`re both girls, which is unexpectedly refreshing.

Have you read this book? Do you want to read it? Let me know what you think down in the comments!

Take care 🙂

(I am currently reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak)

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7 Responses to Book review: Lies We Tell Ourselves (by Robin Talley)

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