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Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
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Lies We Tell Ourselves (2014)

by Robin Talley

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Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
This is a pretty intense book. Narration alternates between Sarah and Linda.
The year is 1959, and a high school in a small Virginia town is being integrated for the first time. Nine select black students will be attending. Sarah Dunbar is one of those students. The realistic portrayal of the viscous racism that the black students encounter is a fierce and unrelenting theme in this book. Knowing about the integration battles in Little Rock, Arkansas and at other places, I'd never realized until reading this novel, just how courageous those first students had to be. The things they endured were horrendous, and yet, they did it. Sarah's introspective narrative tells about it all.
Linda Hairston is the white daughter of the town's newspaper publisher. She is totally convinced that her father (adamantly against integration) is right in all things, even though he is a terrible father figure to her. Linda's equally introspective narration initially gives the view of the anti-integration faction, but (as you would expect in a teen novel) Linda's views change over time.
Sarah is quickly forced to partner in a school project with Linda (and Linda's friend Judy). In their forced work together, Sarah begins to convince Linda to change her views. It's a realistically slow change. There is no single big "oh my God, I've been wrong all along" moment.
Now... the reason they have such a rapport is that (and remember it's 1959, when this wasn't merely unacceptable in society, it wasn't discussed at all) Linda and Sarah are both lesbians, and have secret crushes on each other. They don't even know the word "lesbian" but they know the kind of attraction they have. The first lesbian love aspect of the book is distantly secondary to the racism aspect, but is still a vital part of the plot.
The book is somewhat slow paced - but slow paced with a purpose... making sure the horrors everyone is going through really sink in with the reader. Thought provoking and an excellent historical fiction novel. ( )
  fingerpost | Jul 9, 2019 |
Good premise, mediocre characterization, bad writing. Skip. ( )
  miri12 | May 31, 2019 |
This historical YA novel tells a story of desegregation in an earnest and straightforward way. It's a quick read, but I took some breaks due to the intensity. ( )
  cindywho | May 27, 2019 |
This is an extremely well-written YA novel about the integration of a high school in Virginia in 1959. I couldn't put the book down for the first 60-70 pages. Those pages follow a group of 10 black teens as they integrate the previously all-white high school. To say these kids were subjected to multiple forms of severe abuse is an understatement, and their bravery cannot be overestimated.
Parallel to the integration story is a second story that is just as important. The leading black protagonist, a young woman named Sarah, and the white daughter of the town's leading segregationist, Linda, discover that they have taboo feelings for each other. This is in an era long before the gay rights movement validated those kinds of feelings. Coming to terms with who they really are and learning to accept themselves is a key aspect of how events play out.
Sub-themes, too, emerge such as the role parents play in forcing kids to live out parents' dreams and goals. The relationship between father and daughter, and a daughter escaping a controlling abusive father, are also addressed in this book.
And the book has a happy ending...or at least a hopeful one. What a great book! ( )
1 vote C.J.Shane | Feb 25, 2019 |
This book deals with the first African Americans to experience school integration. Ms. Burke likes that it’s written from the perspective of one of the girls; she got very emotional reading about it.
  FinneytownSecondary | Feb 23, 2019 |
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In 1959 Virginia, Sarah, a black student who is one of the first to attend a newly integrated school, forces Linda, a white integration opponent's daughter, to confront harsh truths when they work together on a school project.

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