Posted in Reviews

Review: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley


The Book: Lies We Tell Ourselves
The Author: Robin Talley
The Publisher: Mira Ink
The Pages: 368
My Rating: 5 stars

It’s 1959.
The battle for civil rights is raging.

And it’s Sarah’s first day off school as one of the first black students at the previously all-white Jefferson High.
Noone wants Sarah there. Not the Governor. Not the teachers. And certainly not the students.
– especially Linda, daughter of the town’s most ardent segregationist.

Sarah and Linda are supposed to despise eachother. But the more time they spend together, the less their differences matter. And both girls start to feel something they’ve never felt before. Something they’re determined to ignore.

Because it’s one thing to stand up to an unjust world – but another to be terrified of what’s in your own heart.


‘Even though she’s a girl. Even though she’s coloured. I want to keep kissing Sarah forever.’

Okay, there is so much to say and yet absolutely no words for a book like this one. This has to be one of the most important, powerful and beautiful books I’ve ever read; and without a doubt my favourite book of 2014.

I devoured this book in a way I haven’t been able to with a book in what feels like forever. It’s one of those books where you can’t put it down and everything else is just a distraction; eating, sleeping, going to work — its all just getting in the way of me reading just one more page, just one more chapter.

Books like this are why I review books. I have to share this with everyone, I need to let my love out and shout it from the virtual blogging rooftops. I need to push it in your face and demand you read it… right now.

This book is so brave and so powerful and its written so gorgeously. Seriously, Robin Talley’s writing is so good, I just flew through the book. She handles the heart-breaking reality of integration perfectly, and seeing it from both Linda and Sarah’s point of view really adds something to the book. Each chapter starts with a Lie, and these lies relate not only to the characters and to the real life people who went through this, but to all of us.

I was horrified reading what these children went through just going to school, the abuse, the violence it was truly horrific. It makes me unbearably sad that, even today, some people can’t see past things like race and sexuality and see that we are all people and we all deserve to be treated equally. As if the colour of someone’s skin says anything about the kind of person they are. This book faces the harsh truths of peoples attitudes to anyone who is different head on.

The two main characters in this book are just perfect and so so real. They are their own people and they are both so strong and so brave. And of course because the authors writing was so gripping and so brilliant, I connected to the characters straight away. I had tears in my eyes both when they were struggling and later when they had developed and were being so strong. Sarah puts on a brave face for her younger sister Ruth and she keeps her head held high despite the pure awfulness of everyone around her. Her ability so not lash out at everyone and to be the bigger person is so admirable its untrue. As for Linda, my heart breaks for her. Everything she’s ever believed is being challenged yet she pushes through. Standing up for what is right, even in small ways, when everyone is against herb takes so much courage. As Dumbledore says it takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your friends. (I’m paraphrasing, you cant expect me to memorise every great Dumbledore quote!)

The character development is superb. It’s not unrealistic where they jump from one phase to the next. They grow and change as their beliefs are challenged and they face the consequences of everything they do. But they come out of it so much stronger, they are their own people and they don’t understand everything but they are determined to make up their own minds about what they did instead of just internalising other peoples beliefs.

‘For eighteen years I’ve believed what other people told me about what was right and what was wrong. From now on, I’m deciding.’

Ok, I may get abit crazy here. Beacause OH MY THE FEELS.


Lindarah / Sarinda (are you even allowed to ship caharacters in serious novels?) but oh my the tension and the feels. I just want to pluck them out of the story so they can stop worrying about everyone else, tell them everything is ok and fine and let them be happy. I JUST LOVE THEM SO MUCH.

Overall, I couldn’t fault this book. It’s brilliant as a book that faces the harsh truths of Segregation and Integration head on from the view of the young people who would have had to struggle through it. But it’s also brilliant as a book about love, and right and wrong and discovering who you are and who you want to be. The writing is beautiful, the characters stay close to your heart long after you’ve finished and the story is gripping, heart-breaking and intense. This is YA at it’s best. (I DARE you to read this and then tell me YA isn’t ‘real’ literature) I recommend this book to everyone, one hundred times over.


4 thoughts on “Review: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

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