Where do I begin with this book? I have to say this book was my absolutely favorite in 2014.
Lies we tell ourselves is mainly about two teenage high school girls who names are Sarah Dunbar and Linda Hairston. This book takes place in the 1950’s where segregation played a very big part. Sarah Dunbar is an African American girl and Linda Hairston is white but guess what happens? NO I’m not telling you, you have to guess!!
Okay Okay I’ll tell you!
The girls fall in love! In love? WHAT? Yes you’re thinking correctly!
Sarah Dunbar is a black girl who is chosen to integrate into an all-white Jefferson High. Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the most powerful segregationists in town. Along with Sarah, her friends and sibling joined Jefferson High School hoping that sooner or later everyone will become equal but that didn’t happen. The physical and emotional abuse that the African American children received was horrific and disgusting. It was disgusting to read that Sarah was constantly spit on and pencils stabbed into her skin. There is no redeeming quality when she gets to Jefferson High: even most of the teachers are racist. Although Sarah spends most of her school days walking through the hallways in fear, she remained the strongest. She had a goal to protect her younger sister name ruthie and while they were use to the name calling everything was okay until she gets cornered in the hall by the leader of Jefferson’s own anti-segregationist gang, Bo Nash. To everyone’s surprise, Linda is the one to stop it. Once the fighting breaks up, they both rush from the scene to the same bathroom.
Linda wasn’t as evil as the other kids and in this book and I was able to see the innocence behind Linda because it was her parents who implied negativity in her mind about color people. However, Linda and Sarah were forced to work together on a project after school generally sweet and soft-spoken best friend, Judy. Sarah and Linda’s arguments become less polite and more truthful. Slowly, their dynamic begins to change. The fights are no longer caused by hatred and there was a sexual tension between them. Both girls they look forward to being together for their school project. Sarah seeks the girl she sees inside of Linda, the intelligent, understanding one. Sarah has always recognized her attraction to women, though religion has made her desperate to hide her "sinful" thoughts.
Linda has a fiancé, but she doesn't love him so much as the escape he represents from an emotionally (and occasionally physically) abusive home life. As Linda comes to reject the violent racism of her father and her classmates, she also falls in love with Sarah. The moment when they finally give in to the pressure and kiss is as delightful as any young adult novel. I loved that the narrative celebrated lesbian romance in an era in which it was rarely discussed.
The writing flows beautifully from chapter to chapter and perspective to perspective. It’s hard to force yourself to stop, even to sleep, because of the amazing way Robin Talley writes this story. The storyline is very interesting and Talley carefully crafts characters that the reader truly cares about. It’s so difficult to dislike anything about them because she creates them not as perfect, but as human.
Along with the minority of race and sexual/romantic preference, this is a wonderful story for teenage girls. Teenage girls are constantly shown as flighty, less serious or generally weaker. This novel never shows them as anything but strong. These characters are a good representation for anyone who falls into the categories of female, minority, and/or queer. They show that history does not skip over you, and that anyone can be the main character of a story. They show that anyone can be strong and anyone can be a hero, whether it’s to a large group, or just one person. If you haven’t read this book I highly recommend it because it was nothing but AMAZING. Every detail was worth holding on to because it wasn’t a book that was a typical read. It had truth behind it.