Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley Book Review


Goodreads Summary:

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

My Rating: 2.5/ 5 Stars

This could’ve been a great book. it had all the elements of a book that I could fall in love with. Awesome characters? Check. Queer Black MC? Check. Interesting plot about  an important time period? Check. This would’ve have been easily one of my favorite reads of 2018 if not for one issue. Lies We Tell Ourselves is written by a white women and for a book about such an tumultuous time and important event not be ownvoices rings so wrongly to me. Had this book been published this year, the book community would be in an up-roar but unfortunately this book was published in 2014 where books like these were still considered revolutionary. We didn’t have books like The Hate U Give, Dear Martin or Tyler Johnson Was Here. #ownvoices books that are so powerful and successful and that have touched so many people lives. If I had read this book when it had come out I would have probably loved it but I’m more aware now and I just can’t condone it.

Am I saying that white authors can’t write black characters? Of course not. But there are certain issues that haven’t been written about by black authors so for white authors to pave the way is kind of disgusting.  To my knowledge, Talley was the first and quite possibly one of the only YA authors to write about integration in schools and it really sucks because if a black author ever wants to write about this, they’re going to be compared to Talley. If a black author had written this book, I probably would have loved it but when reading Lies We Tell Yourselves I felt like Talley was profiting off of the oppression of black individuals. To add to this this is also a book about a black queer teenager which I honestly can’t remember ever seeing in any other book so yet again Talley is overstepping her boundaries.  I also really hated how often the n word was used and like I know it’s supposed to be “authentic” but I could have done without that.

Putting that huge issue aside, I really enjoyed the character of Sarah and really enjoyed reading about her struggle in integrating into an all white high school. I felt that the white perspective of Linda was really uneeded and though I know that she supposedly learned about her mistakes, she never really saw the errors of her ways and merely saw Sarah as the exception. Also the romance in this was super unbelievable and there was no chemistry whatsoever.

Have You Read Lies We Tell Ourselves? What Did You Think of It? Let Me Know In The Comments Down Below!