Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

15828079 Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley.  This title is releasing today, 9/30/14.

Wow, what a tough subject to read about (and write about, I imagine)! I knew that this was a story about a student who was part of the integration process, but had no idea what all that meant for me as a reader. As someone who was not alive during this time, I do feel a sort of detachment from the events, but have always been interested in the topic of Civil Rights. I learned so much, and felt so much, while reading this book.  Lies We Tell Ourselves is the story of Sarah Dunbar, a black high school student, who is integrated with just a few others into a school that has protested, and even shut its doors, in order to keep black students from attending.  From the get go, we are shown just how horrible the black students are treated–white students are protesting and blocking their entry, calling them horrible names, throwing things at them, and acting like they smell terrible. It doesn’t get much better once they get inside….the teachers are almost as bad as the students in the fact that they just ignore what is going on and keep on as if things are normal. Every time Sarah sits down in a classroom, everyone around her gets up and moves away.  She can’t walk down the hall without people surrounding and taunting her.  The whole time she is also worried about her younger sister, Ruth, who is living the same experiences in other hallways. Some of the story is also told from the viewpoint of Linda, a white student that is one of the most outspoken against integration, writing editorials for the school newspaper stating why the black students should not be allowed in their school. Linda soon comes to realize just how wrong her viewpoints may be. All of the black students are placed in remedial classes at the new school, even though they were on the college track and in honors courses in their previous school, because it is assumed that all black people are “dumb”. Not only are we dealing with major racism issues in this story, there is also an LGBTQ twist thrown in, with Sarah constantly questioning and trying to figure out who she should be attracted to without feeling like she is wrong. I really enjoyed reading this book…at times I did feel it dragged a bit, but I know the author was only emphasizing just how horrible the students were being treated by repeating these horrific scenes over and over.  I found the LGBTQ aspect to be an interesting part of the story as well…as if Sarah’s life wasn’t already difficult enough at that point.  Through this story, we can all learn (even if just a tiny bit) what it must’ve been like to be one of those black students that was at the forefront of integration and just how brave they had to be. I will definitely be purchasing this title for my high school library and promoting it among my students.

My rating: 4/5

Who would I recommend it to?  Any of my students!

Sex: Nothing more than kissing and even that is sort of looked down upon.

Language:  There is a lot of race-based language, but the story would not be complete if those words were censored.

Violence: There is some violence mentioned, not much more than fighting.

Drugs/Alcohol: Not an issue.

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