[Review] Lies We Tell Ourselves – Robin Talley

Lies We Tell Ourselves

Lies We Tell OurselvesAuthor: Robin Talley

Publication Date: September 30th, 2014

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Number of Pages: 384

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Romance, LGBTQ

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


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.


Lies We Tell Ourselves is a well-written and highly moving portrayal of school integration. For some reason, I’ve always enjoyed reading about the history of the Civil Rights Movement.

This book reminds me of the Little Rock 9 (for obvious reasons) and was likely inspired by a similar school integration story. It’s incredibly realistic and for some, deeply affected them and their understanding of that particular time period. For me, Lies We Tell Ourselves was a unique version of the story but it did not have a profound effect on me like it has for others.

Although fictional, I can easily envision the events within this book happening in the past.

The main characters, Sarah and Linda, were characterized extremely well. I didn’t really like them, but I can easily give a thorough description of each character’s physical appearance and personality and how they clashed with each other.

I wasn’t expecting the LGBTQ theme in this book at all. It’s not hinted at in the synopsis and when I read the first sign of it, I went on Goodreads to figure out if it was LGBTQ or if it was just something that I had interpreted wrong. I didn’t have anything against it but I wasn’t really expecting romance in this book, period. And to be honest, I really don’t ship Sarah and Linda together whatsoever. It might just be the fact that I don’t really like reading “taboo” relationships or the fact that I didn’t like how Linda suddenly became bisexual. It felt abrupt and I thought that Linda accepted it a lot faster than a girl from that time period would. It didn’t strike me as realistic.

Sarah had the typical “I will go to hell and be brutally hurt in the real world because I’m lesbian” attitude which I thought was very accurate to the time period. Not only this, but I felt that it brought another dimension to her character. She was no longer just a strong character but instead, one that was carrying something that she believed to be a burden. The way she treated herself told loads about her character.

But I loved Sarah’s kickass attitude towards other stuff.

Somebody says something mean about her? She’ll brush it off but if she gets too angry she’ll have a really sassy comeback. The whole time I was like “YOU GO GIRL” when I was reading it.

(Highlight to read)

And at the end, when she has to sing acapella because the white piano player was a racist bigot, she outsang all of the other girls. Not on purpose of course. But Sarah is still kickass.

The book had a very well drawn setting but I liked that it didn’t focus on it. The book was more about the characters and the conflicts between them. Because of this, the conflicts were vividly described and appropriately effective.

I felt like it was too… emotionally detached? It doesn’t really make sense but I felt as if I could never feel the emotions of the characters. I had a hard time connecting to them.

3/5 Stars

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