Title: Lies We Tell Ourselves
Author: Robin Talley
Genre: Historical Fiction - Young Adult
Length: 368 pages
This book is about two high school seniors who meet when their high school is integrated in 1959. Although the story and high school are fictitious, the author did her research. Unfortunately integration didn’t go smoothly in every school district including some parts of Virginia that fought it for years after it had become the law.
Sarah is a college bound black teenager who transfers to Jefferson High School to get a better education. Along with nine other blacks, Sarah is put into remedial classes and has to deal with a barrage of humiliating and dangerous pranks. Linda grew up in a family strongly opposed to integration. These two students are forced to work together on a school project. Over the course of a few months, they slowly come to grip with some of the lies they have told themselves about each other’s races and realize they are not as different as they suspected.
The book takes place over a period of four months.
My Review (small spoiler in 2nd paragraph down)
Although it was painful to read at times, it opened my eyes to our country’s recent history. In all my lessons about integration, I had only learned about adults such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. I had never thought about the children who sometimes had to be the ones on the front lines.
I had a hard time putting it down. It was fast paced, and I was fascinated by the history of school integration. This book also touched upon the difficulty of coming to terms with lesbian feelings. The focus was on the girls’ feelings rather than on a physical relationship. There was only a couple brief kisses.
Part of my enjoyment was due to the way the story was told. One-half of the book was in first person from Sarah’s point of view, the other half from Linda’s. (The last chapter was told by Ruth, Sarah’s younger sister.) Unlike other books that switch back and forth between points of view after every chapter, this book only switched a couple of times. For me, this was the best of both worlds. I got to identify with each of their perspectives, but I didn’t have to struggle through the transitions from one point of view to the other very frequently.
I am a member of two book clubs, and we read a variety of genres. Plus, as a Young Adult author, I am constantly reading YA books to improve my writing.
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