Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin TalleyLies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Lies We Tell Ourselves

byRobin Talley

Hardcover | September 30, 2014

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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. 

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.
Robin Talley is the New York Times-bestselling author of four novels for teen readers: Our Own Private Universe, As I Descended, What We Left Behind, and Lies We Tell Ourselves. Her first book, Lies We Tell Ourselves, was the winner of the inaugural Amnesty CILIP Honour. Robin was a Lambda Literary Foundation fellow, and has contribute...
Title:Lies We Tell OurselvesFormat:HardcoverProduct dimensions:384 pages, 8.33 × 5.96 × 1.18 inShipping dimensions:8.33 × 5.96 × 1.18 inPublished:September 30, 2014Publisher:HarlequinLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0373211333

ISBN - 13:9780373211333

Appropriate for ages: 14 - 14


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing This is one of the first lgbtq+ books I've read, and it's easily in the top 3. It's centered mostly around racism, with homophobia and some sexism added on top. You definitely have to fight for what you believe in, and persevere even when the world tells you you are wrong, either because of who you love, or the colour of your skin. Everyone should read Lies We Tell Ourselves at least once, everyone needs to know that people get hurt, and that they have fought hard throughout history for their human rights.
Date published: 2018-02-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This book was amazing!! I read this book in one sitting, I couldn't put it down. It talked about deep themes and was very well written. This book was fanstatic.
Date published: 2017-05-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good book! This is a very interesting read! Well-done historical fiction with important themes!
Date published: 2017-01-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from 11/10 Put aside studying my exam to read this; still no regrets.
Date published: 2016-12-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A must-read! This book you guys.. I find that it's probably one of the most important reads I've read in all my time since I've been blogging. Dealing with such a heavy topic like racism can be hard to take. But this one really made me feel like I was right there alongside these characters and seeing everything and experiencing everything they were feeling. There was so much hate. So much anger. You can feel it leap off the pages. I found the two different viewpoints to be extremely informative. Both are excellent portrayals from each side. Sarah is one of my favourite characters I have read lately. She has the strongest will and determination. I kept applauding her every chance I could get. Not only is she one of the first black students, she's also gay. In the 1950s, liking someone of the same gender would probably give way to a jail sentence. I applaud this character for being brave and strong. As for Linda, I easily judged her to be super ignorant. Then you start to get deeper into the book, and you know she has some issues, especially with her family. Perfection is never easy when it comes to the white popular student. This is truly one of the most emotionally charged and challenging books I have read. "Lies We Tell Ourselves" is a must-read for anyone.
Date published: 2016-01-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Important book Set in Virgina in 1959, Lies We Tell Ourselves is the story of two girls on the opposite sides of the fight ensuing when Jefferson High School is forced by the law to allow black students within its halls. Sarah Dunbar was an honors student at her old school but is placed in remedial classes at Jefferson and tormented daily by her classmates. Linda Hairston is a popular girl who?s father runs a local paper and strongly believes in segregation. They?re forced to work together on a school project and it leads to them getting to know each other, and being forced to confront some hard truths about their beliefs and their feelings toward one another. I wanted to read this book before I was even finished reading the synopsis. I knew the events and the mindset of that period would be hard to read but I definitely wasn?t prepared for how hard it would be. It was the type of book and narration that can make a reader think. I thought the dual POV, with a girl on each side of segregation, was really smart. If it had just been in Sarah?s POV it would have been a lot easier to judge the other side and write them off as evil characters, but the addition of Linda?s POV showed how easily hatred and beliefs can be passed on, how hard it can be to overcome those beliefs, how standing up against bullies is never easy for anyone. Sarah was such a strong character. The taunts, insults, abuse she had to take just to get from the sidewalk to the front doors of the school, all proof that no one wanted her and her fellow students to integrate, was horrifying and set the tone for how the rest of the school year would be for them. The determination she had just to make it into the school was amazing. Linda turned out to be a nice surprise. It would have been easy to fall into the good POV versus the evil POV trap but instead Linda had her own distinct voice, her own issues, and her slow growth throughout the book was great to see. The more time they were forced to spend together, the more they would frustrate each other, the more they would be on one another?s minds. It became easy to see why they would be drawn to one another. There were a lot of minor characters, some more present than others, but they were all distinct enough so I never felt overwhelmed or forgot who was who. I particularly enjoyed Sarah?s sister Ruth, Linda?s friend Judy, and Sarah?s friends Chuck and Ennis. While reading, it was impossible not to remember that even though the characters were fictional, the events were not. It made everything Sarah and her friends went through that much more horrifying. The book tackled a lot of hard topics, racism and sexuality being the two main ones, but also showed, mostly through Linda, that sexism was also a huge problem back then. The chapter titles were really clever. Each one was a statement that was a lie. Lie#1, Lie#2, etc. This is a book you read and you don?t forget. *I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Date published: 2014-10-07

Read from the Book

LIE #1Theres no need to be afraid.Jefferson High School, Davisburg, Virginia February 2,1959THE WHITE PEOPLE are waiting for us.Chuck sees them first. He's gone out ahead of our group to peer around the corner by the hardware store. From there you can see all of Jefferson High.The gleaming redbrick walls run forty feet high. The building is a block wide, and the windowpanes are spotless. A heavy concrete arch hangs over the two-story wood-and-glass doors at the front entrance.The only thing between us and the school is the parking lot. And the white people.We've all walked past Jefferson a thousand times before, but this will be the first time any of us steps inside. Until today, those big wooden doors might as well have been triple-locked, and we didn't have the key.Our school, on the other side of town, is only one story. It's narrow—no wider than the Food Town. Our teachers put boards in the windows to cover the cracks in the glass, but that's not enough to stop the wind from whistling past us at our desks.Our old school, anyway. Jefferson is supposed to be our school now.If we can make it through those big brown doors."They're out there all right," Chuck says when he comes back. He's trying to smile, but he just looks frozen. "Somebody sent out the welcome committee."No one laughs. We can hear the white people. They're shouting, but the sound is too disjointed for us to make out the words.I'm glad. I don't want to hear. I don't want my little sister Ruth to hear it, either. I try to pull her closer to me, but she jerks away. Ruth will be fifteen in two weeks, and she already thinks she's too old to need help from her big sister."If anything happens, you come find me, all right?" I whisper. "Don't trust the teachers or the white people. Come straight to me.""I can take care of myself," Ruth whispers back. She steps away from me and links arms with Yvonne, one of the other freshmen."What are you gonna do if they try something?" Chuck asks Ennis. He keeps his voice low, trying to blend in with the dull roar coming from the school, so the younger kids won't hear him. Chuck, Ennis and I are the only three seniors in our group. Most of the others are freshmen and sophomores. "They've got some big guys on that football team.""Never mind that," Ennis says, raising his voice so the others can hear. "They won't try anything, not in school. All they'll do is call us names, and we'll just ignore them and keep walking. Isn't that right, Sarah?""That's right," I echo. I want to sound in charge, like Mrs. Mul-lins, but my voice wobbles.Ennis holds my eye. His face looks like Daddy's did this morning, when he watched Ruth and me climb into the carpool station wagon. Like he's taking a good, long look, in case he doesn't get another chance.Ennis sounds like Daddy, too. My father and Mrs. Mullins and the rest of the NAACP leaders have been coaching us on the rules since the summer, when the court first said the school board had to let us into the white school. Rule One: Ignore anything the white people say to you and keep walking. Rule Two: Always sit at the front of the classroom, near the door, so you can make a quick getaway if you need to. And Rule Three: Stay together whenever you possibly can."What if they spit on us?" one of the freshmen boys whispers. The ten of us are walking so tightly together down the narrow sidewalk we can't help but hear each other now, but none of us makes any move to separate. "We're supposed to stand there and take it?""You take it unless you want to get something worse after school lets out," Chuck says.There's a glint in Chuck's eye. I don't think he'll take anything he doesn't want to take.I wonder what he thinks is going to happen today. I wonder if he's ready.I thought I was. Now I'm not so sure."Listen up, everybody, this is important." Ennis sounds serious and official, like the NAACP men. "Remember what they told us. Look straight ahead and act like you don't hear the white people. If a teacher says something to you, you don't talk back. Don't let anybody get you alone in the bathroom or on the stairs. And no matter what happens, you just keep walking.""What if somebody tries to hang us from the flagpole?" the freshman says. "Do we just keep walking then, too?""You watch your mouth," Chuck tells him. "You'll scare the girls."I want to tell him the girls are plenty scared already.Instead I straighten my shoulders and lift my head. The younger kids are watching me. I can't let them see how my stomach is dropping to my feet. How the fear is buzzing in my ear like a mosquito that won't be swatted away.We round the corner. Across the street, Jefferson High School sweeps into view. The white people are spread out across the front steps and the massive parking lot. Now I know why we could hear the crowd so well. There must be hundreds of them. The whole student body, all standing there. Waiting."Just like I said," Chuck says. He lets out a low whistle. "Our very own personal welcome wagon."Ahead of me, Ruth shivers, despite her bulky winter coat. Under it she's wearing her favorite blue plaid dress with the crinoline slip and brand-new saddle shoes. I'm in my best white blouse, starched stiff. Our hair is done so nice it might as well be Easter Sunday. Mama fixed it last night, heating the hot combs on the stove and yanking each strand smooth. Everything's topsy-turvy with school starting in February instead of September, but we're all in our best clothes anyway. No one wants the white people to think we can't afford things as nice as theirs.I try to catch Chuck's eye, but he isn't paying attention to me. He's looking at the crowd.They're watching us.They're shouting.Each new voice is sharper and angrier than the last.I still can't make out what they're saying, but we're not far now.I want to cover Ruth's ears. She'd never let me. Besides, she'll hear it soon enough no matter what I do.Our group has gone quiet. The boys are done blustering. Ruth lets go of Yvonne and steps back toward me. Behind us, a girl hiccups.What if one of them starts crying? If the white people see us in tears, they'll laugh. They'll think they've beaten us before we've begun. We have to look strong.I close my eyes, take a long breath and recite in my clearest voice. "The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want."Ruth joins in. "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside the still waters."Then, all ten of us, in the same breath. "He restoreth my soul."Some of them have spotted us from across the street. The white boys at the front of the crowd are pushing past each other to get the first look at us.Police officers line the school's sidewalks in front of the boys. They're watching us, too.I don't bother looking back at them. The police aren't here to help us. Their shiny badges are all that's stopping them from yelling with the other white people. For all we know they trade in those badges for white sheets at night.Then reporters are running toward us. A flashbulb goes off in my face. The heat singes my eyes. All I see is bright white pain.Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.I want to reach for Ruth, but my hands are shaking. It's all I can do to hold on to my books."Are you afraid?" a reporter shouts, shoving a microphone at my chin. "If you succeed, you'll be the first Negroes to set foot in a white school in this state. What do you think will happen once you get inside?"I step around him. Ruth is holding her head high. I lift mine, too.Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.We're almost at the parking lot now. We can hear the shouts. "Here come the niggers!" yells a boy on the steps. "The niggers are coming!"The rest of the crowd takes up his chant, as if they rehearsed it. "The niggers! The niggers! The niggers!"I try to take Ruth's hand. She shakes me away, but her shoulders are quivering.I wish she wasn't here with us. I wish she didn't have to do this.I wish I didn't have to do this.I think about what the white reporter said. If you succeedAnd if we don't?"It will be all right," I tell Ruth.But my words are drowned out in the shouting."Mau maus!""Tar babies!""Coons!"And "nigger." Over and over."Nigger! Nigger! Nigger! Nigger! Nigger!"I've never been called a nigger in my life. Not until today.We step over the curb. The white people jostle us, bumping up against us, trying to shove us back. We keep pushing forward, slowly, but it's hard. The crowd isn't moving, so we have to slide between them. Ennis and Chuck go in front, clearing a path, ignoring the elbows to their sides and shoves at their chests.I want to put Ruth behind me, but then I couldn't see her, and what if we got separated? What would I tell Mama and Daddy?I grab her arm too tight, my fingers digging in. Ruth doesn't complain. She leans in closer to me."Go back to Africa!" someone shouts by my ear. "We don't want niggers in our school!"Just walk. Get inside. Get Ruth inside. When the reporters go away everyone will calm down. If we can get through this part it will be all right.My cup runneth over.Ruth's arm jerks away from me. I almost fall, my legs swaying dangerously under me, but I catch myself before I collapse.I turn toward Ruth, or where she should be. Three older boys, their backs to me, are standing around my little sister, towering over her. One of them steps close to her. Too close. He knocks the books out of her arms, into the dirt.I lunge toward them, but Ennis is faster. He dodges through a gap between the boys—he doesn't shove them; we're not allowed to touch any of them, no matter what they do to us—and pulls Ruth back toward me, leaving her books where they fell. He nods at me in a way that almost makes me believe he's got everything under control.He doesn't. He can't. If the boys do anything to him, Ennis doesn't stand a chance, not with three against one. But they let him go, snarling, "We're gonna make your life Hell, black boy."Ruth's still holding her chin high, but she's shaking harder than ever. I wrap my hand back around her arm. My knuckles go pale. I swallow. Once, twice, three times. Enough to keep my eyes steady and my cheeks dry."What about my books?" Ruth asks me."We'll get you new books." The blood is rushing in my ears. I remember I should've thanked Ennis. I look for him, but he's surrounded by another group of white boys.I can't help him. I can't stop walking.Two girls, their faces all twisted up, start a new chant. "Two, four, six, eight! We don't want to integrate!"Others join in. The whole world is a sea of angry white faces and bright white flashbulbs. "Two, four, six, eight! We don't want to—""Is the NAACP paying you to go to school here?" a reporter shouts. "Why are you doing this?"A girl pushes past the reporter to yell in my ear. Her voice is so shrill I'm sure my eardrum will burst. "Niggers go home! Dirty niggers go home!"Ennis is back in front, pushing through the crowd with Chuck. Ennis is very tall, so he's easy to spot. People always ask if he plays basketball. He hates it because he's terrible at basketball. He's the best player on the football and baseball teams, though.He was at our old school, anyway. That's all done now that he's coming to Jefferson. No sports for the boys, no choir for me, no cheerleading for Ruth. No dances or plays for any of us. No extracurriculars, that's what Mrs. Mullins said, not this year.Something flies through the air toward Ennis. I shout for him to duck, but I'm too late. Whatever it is bounces off his head. Ennis keeps moving like he didn't even feel it.I look for the police. They're standing on the curb, watching us. One sees me looking and points toward the main entrance. Telling me to keep moving.He's looking right at us. He must have seen Ennis get hit.He doesn't care. None of them do.I bet they'd care if we threw things back."Nigger!" The girl is still shrieking at me. "Nigger! Nigger! You're nothing but a filthy, stinking nigger!"We're almost there. The door is only a few yards away, but the crowd of white people in front of it is too thick. And the shouts are getting louder.We'll never make it. We were stupid to think this could ever work.I wonder if they knew that. The police. The judge. Mrs. Mullins. Daddy. Mama. Did they think we'd even get this far? Did they think this was enough?Maybe next year. Maybe the year after that. Someday, they'll let us through, but not today.Please, God, let this be over.Someone shrieks behind me. I glance back.Yvonne is clutching her neck. I can't tell if she's bleeding."Yvonne!" Ruth tries to turn back, but I hold her arm. We can worry about Yvonne later."Nigger!" The white girl at my shoulder is so close I can feel her hot breath on my face. "Coon digger! Stinking nigger!""Oh!" Ruth stumbles. I reach to catch her before she falls, but she finds her footing quickly. She's wiping something off her face.The boy who spat on her is grinning. I want to hit him, hard, shove him back into the group of boys behind him. See how he likes it when he's not the one with the power.Instead I keep walking, propelling my sister forward. We're inching closer to the doors.We're not so far now. Maybe we can get inside. Inside, it will be better."You know you ain't going in there, nigger!" the girl screeches in my ear. "You turn around and go home if you know what's good for you! We don't want no niggers in our school!"

Editorial Reviews

"[A] well-paced, engrossing story....a beautifully written and compelling read." -School Library Journal"A well-handled debut." -Booklist"A piercing look at the courage it takes to endure...forms of extreme hatred, violence, racism and sexism." -Kirkus Reviews"The big issues of school desegregation in the 1950s, interracial dating, and same-sex couples have the potential to be too much for one novel, but the author handles all with aplomb...Educators looking for materials to support the civil rights movement will find a gem in this novel, and librarians seeking titles for their LGBT displays should have this novel on hand." -VOYA"I found myself at turns grateful and horrified as I read Talley's fictionalized account of integration....Lies We Tell Ourselves might be fiction, but the story is true - and it's one we should never forget." -NPR"A stirring portrayal of the fight for integration in the late 1950s....Both [integration and gay rights] are touchy subjects, yet Ms. Talley navigates them with grace...Definitely a must-read book for 2014 - and future years to come, as I'm sure this book will go down in the young adult canon as a classic." -Pittsburgh Post-Gazette