Publisher/Year: Harlequin Teen- September 2014
Genres: YA Historical Fiction
Other Books From Author: None -- debut novel!
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I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!
Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”
It’s 1959 and a high school in Virginia is integrating. It’s told from the perspective of two teenage girls — one white and one black — who are in this middle of this fight for integration/segregation. Sarah is a senior and should be enjoying her last year of high school in choir and with her friends but she’s now part of the small group of students that are the first to integrate into the white high school where it’s clear she’s not welcome by all the protests, the assaults and the nasty words being thrown. Linda is also senior and her dad is one of the biggest voices against the integration. The two get paired together for a school project everything they have ever known about themselves and the world feels uncertain.
1. When I studied history in high school I always wondered what the teens were doing & this book explored that for me: You always are talking mostly about adults in history class but I would always wonder things like, “I wonder what the teens were doing during civil rights or what was it like for them during these wars.” Lies We Tell Ourselves gives me exactly that. Yes, they were being teens and worrying about the dance and relationships and school but they also were very affected and influenced by the current events of the day. We got to see the prejudices they learned from their parents and the media and just how the decisions made by the adults affected them so intensely. I mean, the decision to integrate schools was something that affected the kids more than it did anyone else. They were at the epicenter of that and I loved that we saw just how quizzical teens were and how they explored their own opinions — just as teens do about anything.
2. It broke my heart in a lot of ways and was so hard to read because I knew, while this was fiction, this was a reality: Reading what the black teens who integrated into the white school had to endure just made my stomach hurt and also made me want to hug them all and tell them how brave they were. It’s always hard for me to read about any sort of oppression or injustices in fiction but to read about that 1) REALLY DID HAPPEN and 2) was in recent-ish history and not like hundreds of years ago just killed me. You realize how far we’ve come but also, when I see current events of today, how far we still have to go. Reading the scenes of being mobbed in the halls, having things thrown at them and knowing people wanted you to die shook me up physically. Robin Talley wrote it in such a way where it just reverberated off the pages — the hatred boiling, the fear, the yells echoing. SO real.
3. I really loved watching both characters interact with each other because it felt pretty realistic: You can’t hate Linda — even when she does the wrong thing over and over again and is cruel and obviously racist. At least I couldn’t. So much of coming of age is also figuring out stuff for yourself vs. what you’ve always been told. When your parents believe certain things, they are easily rubbed off on you and that’s what we see with Linda. I loved watching her and Sarah interact and the curiosity that was there in both girls and started crumbling the walls that had been erected by society. Truthfully I thought this was just going to be a novel about two girls navigating a friendship when they weren’t supposed to so I was a little thrown for a loop when I realized it was more of a romantic thing. I think it was a lot to explore in one book considering both prejudices but Robin Talley did it well.
Re-readability: Probably wouldn’t.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Maybe not for myself because I wouldn’t re-read/it wasn’t a favorite but I want this to be on the shelves of every high school and YA section in the library.
Lies We Tell Ourselves is a powerful story that really reminded me how brave people are and that’s how change happens — standing up for what is right, figuring out WHAT you think is right for yourself and not being afraid to have a voice. Sarah and Linda were two brave characters navigating this battle of civil rights and it really made me wonder about all the real, unknown acts of bravery during this time that helped change happen. I really enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it!
* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
Have you read any books set in this time period you could recommend me?