[I am currently on holidays until the end of August, I’ll be replying to you all, blog-hopping again and everything then! Thank you for understanding, love you all!]
There are no spoilers in this review.
I’m not fearless and I know I tend, sometimes, to stay away or be a bit more wary of books dealing with big, important issues. Despite my love for contemporary stories, some stories are always hard to read because, unlike in fantasy, you know these stories are based on the truth. Characters, made-up-places and everything don’t cover up the fact that these things happen, even if they did in a different way. ANYWAY. I’m here to rant about Lies We Tell Ourselves because that book was really, really good and I loved it so much. It was intense, yes, but it was also very important.
TWO GIRLS, ONE SCHOOL, ONE BATTLE
There’s no need to be afraid.”
Set in the 1950’s southern united stated, Lies We Tell Ourselves tell two sides of the story of segregation. On one side, there is Sarah Dunbar, one of the firsts in a group of black students integrating an all-white high school in Virginia. On the other side, there’s Linda, one of the girls in this school, daughter of one of the most fervent defender of the segregation. This may seem like two sides of one story, but really, Lies We Tell Ourselves gets important when their sides collide, when the two girls are forced to work on a school project together, and everything changes.
Lies We Tell Ourselves isn’t an easy book to read – for me it was, at least, because it doesn’t sugarcoat anything about segregation, integration or what this new group of students get through while they are trying to integrate. I don’t know much about this period of time in the united states, but I know that it is such an important part of the history of the country, and also one of the darkest parts. It was really interesting to get to know it a bit better thanks to fiction, and it made my heart break, squeeze, hurt seeing everything happening to these students and overall in that period of time. It was quite intense to read about the violence, it was quite mesmerizing to get into Sarah’s shoes for just a couple of pages and feel her fear for her sister, her family, her life.
THREE-DIMENSIONAL CHARACTERS, DISTINCT VOICES AND GREAT DEVELOPMENT
“Other people will try to decide things for you, she says. They’ll try to tell you who you are. Remember, no matter what they say, you’re the only who really decides.”
Both of the characters in this story were well fleshed-out and distinct. Told from their two point of views, I was thrilled to see that both Sarah and Linda had a different voice, one I could recognize while reading their stories. If their path met more than once, if they had many moments together, the writing was fluid and the story did not repeat itself at any times. What amazed me the most, and probably my favorite part of this story, was how the characters developed and changed as the story evolved. Both Sarah and Linda’s growth was so good to follow, as they took things into their own hands, grew fearless, or at least grew knowing how to held their head up high a bit better, grew knowing what they wanted a bit more, defined and shaped themselves and their own desires. I found myself growing more and more attached to each of them as the story went on, especially towards Linda, with whom I had quite a hard time at the beginning of the story.
“That lovely face sets off a fire inside me that isn’t ever supposed to burn.”
The relationships between the characters were well-portrayed and, just like the rest of the story, felt realistic. At the very beginning, I never would have imagined Sarah and Linda to grow closer and become friends, even more, to develop feelings towards each other. Yet, the development of the relationship was very well handled and I could actually understand it. The fact that the book is set in the 1950’s and Sarah’s attraction to Linda, and vice-versa, is seen as different, as very confusing, especially for Linda, made it all the more interesting to follow. Her internal struggles between her feelings and what she was supposed to do, the person she thought she was supposed to be versus who she really is, were great to follow.
If we didn’t get too much of the families in the story, which I’m a bit sad about, I’m still glad they were still present, on both sides. I especially appreciated getting a glimpse at the parents’ struggles, on Sarah’s side, to make both hands meet, their fights for their rights and everything. Another thing I loved is Ruth, Sarah’s sister, being there and part of the story, part of Sarah’s mind and I loved how fiercely she wanted to protect her.
Lies We Tell Ourselves was told from such an emotional way, I really could feel each of the characters’ struggles with them. Everything, from the situations, to the way they all reacted, felt quite realistic to me, which helped me love this book even more. I’m not much of a historical young adult kind of girl, yet with this one, somehow it worked – I think it’s mainly because, while the topic was hard to read about, it still was quite interesting to follow, realistic, engrossing and most importantly, I wanted everything for the characters, these characters I grew to love, to be okay, in the end.
Final rating: 4 drops!
Trigger warnings: racial slurs, hate crime, homophobia.
Do you want to read Lies We Tell Ourselves? What was the last book you read that made you emotional? Share your thoughts in comments!
Robin Talley, Lies We Tell Ourselves, Published by Harlequin Teen, September 30th 2014.
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.