Monday, November 10, 2014

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

I added Lies We Tell Ourselves to my library queue because it was getting terrific buzz. And rightly so. Talley wrote a difficult book beautifully. It was hard to read but I could stop reading it because the writing was so beautiful.

It's 1959 in Virginia. Sarah is a senior in high school. Lies We Tell Ourselves opens on her first day of school. Sarah is one of the first African-American students to attend Jefferson High School. The governor of Virginia shut down the schools for the past 5 months to avoid integration. But the courts overturned him and Sarah and nine other African-American students walk into Jefferson High.

Linda watches Sarah that day. Linda and her parents are segregationists. Linda firmly believes that Sarah and the other African-American students are there to ruin her senior year and her life. All Linda wants to do is graduate so she can marry her sweetheart. Then Linda's life can start.

Not only does the Lies We Tell Ourselves tell the story of these young men and women intregrating an all white high school but it also tells the story of Sarah, a young woman struggling to find where she belongs. Not only is Sarah integrating this school but she is gay. Sarah is a Christian and believes that there is something wrong with her. I deeply enjoyed reading Sarah's journey. Talley made these characters leap off the page and draw me into their lives. I read the bulk of Lies We Tell Ourselves in one sitting.

I would highly recommend Lies We Tell Ourselves. Not just because of the rich historical detail (which was painful to read at times) or the beautiful writing, but because it was a damn good book. Others who shared their thoughts on Lies We Tell Ourselves: Miss Literati,  The YA Kitten, and Jess Hearts Books.
This was my sixteenth read for the Historical Reading Challenge.

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