YA Review: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley



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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.


People are mean!

I’m sorry, I had to get that off my chest. Whenever I read Historical Fiction I usually cry over my book because people are just so mean. Why?! Why is it hard to be nice?!

Yes, this book made me despise humanity slightly. But it also simultaneously restored my belief that there are always nice people, even in a horrible time.

So what’s the book about? Mainly: racism. 

It’s sit in 1959, so yes, I am going to use Hairspray musical gifs (that’s set in the 60s, but same basic principle) and The Help gifs (also 60s) and you’re welcome in advance.

The writing was fantastic!

Despite the first 30% being one day, the pace is brisk and the writing’s tight. I abhor wading through kilometres of dreary interior monologue. Ugh. But this? This was perfect. It is co-narrated by Linda and Sarah, which surprised me. Their voices were different though. No confusion.

Sarah is black and Linda is white. They start out with a hate relationship (duh) with gradual melts into love. Honestly, Linda is mean girl personified. She’s introduced as a snob! The second I met her through Sarah’s POV, I thought, “Here comes the rich snark — pretty hair and shallow soul, right?”


I am oh-so-impressed with Linda. 

Sure Sarah had to fight racism, going to a horrible school where she was physically and emotionally bullied day after day. But Sarah had support. Anyone with dark skin new what she was going through! What about Linda? Little rich white girl? Pfft, go cry to your daddy when you don’t get your lollipop.

What we don’t think of (during that awful time of rights for everyone), is rights for women in general. Linda wasn’t going to college because she was getting married. THAT was the peak of her life. And why did she want to get married? To get away from her abusive father. I’m 1000% impressed that the book covered sexism against women as well.

My only negative is I felt the story was predictable.

Yeah, it was full of meanies! Don’t get me wrong! The bullying the black kids had to go through in the all-white high school was so wrong. But I didn’t get any plot surprises. I didn’t get any character development surprises. It all seemed pretty en route to awesome to me. It was predictable and nice

And where was the Southern food?! This is VIRGINIA. I’ve watched The Help peoples, and I know there’s more to Southern life than grumpy newspaper people and racism. There is fried chicken. WHERE WAS THE FRIED CHICKEN? Maybe everyone would’ve been happier if they ate more…


AOaR_4star (3)

Cait is tentatively planning to do NaNo (never too early to plot, right?) unless she gets too excited and starts in October instead. So many book ideas to write! Find her on twitter and her crazy blog.




  1. Great review. The Hairspray and The Help gifs were much appreciated. 🙂 I actually used to read quite a lot of apartheid literature, and I don’t know why I stopped, since the era is fascinating.
    Allso so true – why don’t characters eat more fast food? *Continues munching on pizza*



    1. I couldn’t resist adding in the awesome 50s-60s gifs. XD SUCH good movies. *ahem* But yes, I read Historical Fiction a lot in school but not so much anymore. It’s a fabulous genre though. 😉



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