Author: Robin Talley
Shelves: Abandoned, gr-conspiracy, historical fiction, let-me-down
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.
OKAY. The world can hate me later, so first hear me out. This was not meant to happen, but after 220+ pages, I cannot deny that it did, fuck my intentions.
Individually, the aspects of Lies We Tell Ourselves are intriguing, and in a word, important. We have interracial romance between two girls around the time of integration, southern pride and prejudices making for obstacles, parents messing with children’s lives and lifestyles. But together, the cogs just aren’t working smoothly enough for me.
This is a book of ISSUES, and that’s fine, I would love it for that and I kind of did, how it was worked into the story, how the story was them; but the rotatory motions of the two main characters’ though process, for that’s how they appeared to me, the constant flux of back and forth, less and more, that I observed in their voices doesn’t make me want to finish the story. I’m certainly not invested in it despite the fact that all those individual pieces? I can only applaud them and I mean it.
Take a look at Linda: she is conditioned and does not fight it, not until she begins to fall for Sarah. Even then, she thinks it’s because Sarah is a special snowflake, not like the other colored people. However, her voice appears so coddled, despite the fact that she isn’t. Not at all. And perhaps, you can attribute these contradictions to her conditioning but even as such, it created a rift for me.
And Sarah! Her “I’m a sinner” tirade at every bloody thing was expected, not unreasonable, and to some extent, emotional. A less pathetic person would have felt for her. Eheh. I wish she didn’t keep repeating it so much.
You can just imagine how the romance worked for me. Come on, work that imagination.
BUT I HAVE GOOD THINGS TO SAY TOO(which I cannot remember or maybe I’ve exhausted myself). Okay, I liked the diversity in the portrayal of parents, teachers and voices. If there’s one thing I can accept without any qualms, it’s that Robin Talley can really create distinct voices.
YOU, yes YOU, are going to love Lies We Tell Ourselves and it’s a solemn promise that you can hit me later for if it doesn’t pan out, but 4 times out of 5, it will. And you should take me up on those odds, not because this is an “important” book, but because it is fantastic(just not for me). It will make you angry, sad, maybe happy, and if you’re a segregationist, then you’re probably never picking this book, but don’t worry, it was never written for you. It was written for us, to remind us.
I really want a dress of that cover, though. I have wanted it since the first time I saw it.
Review copy provided by Harlequin. Thank you so much!