October 28, 2014

Review: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Title: Lies We Tell Ourselves
Author: Robin Talley

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.

I didn't read this book - my 15 year old daughter did, so I'm sharing her thoughts. 

Here's how her reading it came about. I had just gotten the ARC for review and had it sitting on the counter. She had to have a book for a book report paper for advanced English 10. She had originally picked something like Jane Eyre. After I left for work she must have picked the book up and looked at it. I get a text asking if she can take it to read for her book report. I of course said yes.  Now -the idea behind the book report was that it was to push her reading/thinking, so I asked her if she thought it would do that. She felt this book would definitely push her thinking as well as being something that interested her! 

What I have for the review are parts of the book report she wrote and conversations I had with her about the book.

From her book report:
I choose this book for many reasons, but mostly because it seemed like a good book with an intricate story as well as rounded characters. I choose it also because as soon as I saw it I felt like I would enjoy it, although it may not be something that I usually would read when picking out a new book.

Throughout this book there are several underlying themes, themes about love and hatred, and why we do the things we do, but there is one major theme throughout the book, which is even evident in it’s title. This prominent theme is the idea that we all tell each others and ourselves lies, and when we overcome these lies we can become better people in the long run. This theme is present not just in the name, but each chapter is a different lie that we commonly tell ourselves.

There are many conflicts in this book, many of them being person against person conflicts such as Linda against Sarah, but the main conflict through the book is person against society. The society is what Sarah, her friends, and her family. are trying to fight against. This is not specifically the people, although sometimes it doesn't seem like that. They are trying to fight against what people have grown up in and believe to be true above everything else. This society is what makes these characters so particularly evil in most cases.

Would I recommend this book to others? A resounding yes on my part (emphasis mine). This book would appeal to many people interested in the civil rights movement, or just historical fiction in general, but also any mature readers that read it will take a lot away from it. It is not a lighthearted book, so if people go into it knowing that, most readers should be fine. There are many great attributes to this book, including, as I mentioned earlier, well rounded and thought out characters, and a great and intricate plot line. It’s a very new book, only coming out this October, but it’s on a fast track to becoming well known.

My adding in:
What doesn't come completely through in that is what I heard in her voice when she talked about the book. She loved it.  She got super animated when talking about it.  She even took the book out at one point when we were in the car and started sharing the titles to the chapters.  They are all "lies we tell ourselves".  She thought that was the neatest thing, and she loved how the chapter titles tied in to what was happening in that chapter.  

Later we were talking about the book again, and she said it was now in her top three books along with The Book Thief and one more I can't remember.  I honestly don't think I'll ever see the book again, because it will go on her bookshelf with her special books.

Lastly we did talk about the two main character quit a bit.  She was very clear about what she liked and didn't like about them, but loved how they changed and grew throughout the story.  We also talked about the sexual orientation of the girls and how that was a part of the story.  It was amazing to hear her explain how it was a part of the story, how it affected things, but yet how it wasn't the focus.  

In the end - she loved it beyond anything.  After hearing my daughter talk about a lot of books over the years, it was clear to me this impacted her greatly and she will carry the story and the characters forward for a long while! 

1 comment:

  1. This book sounds incredible. I love hearing about how excited your daughter was by this one. Thanks for the review. I will check this one out.