Monday, February 2, 2015

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley



This week, we'll be blogging all about the book, Lies We Tell Ourselves, because on Friday, the author Robin Talley will be joining us for an interview!

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

It's 1959 and, after closing for a year to avoid integrating it's student body, Jefferson High School is opening its doors for the first time. Sarah Dunbar and fourteen other students are the first African American teens to enroll at this high school. Sarah's a senior who has left the school where her friends are, where she was a star in the choir, where she was one of the top students in order to make sure that any student who wants to attend the school, can. She and the other fourteen students, including her little sister, Ruthie, are doing something they believe in and something that can change the course of history, but that doesn't make it any less terrifying.

In every classroom and every hallway, students and many of the teachers are trying to make Sarah's life miserable. They call her names and throw things at her and try to get her to break school rules. Sarah was a star pupil at her last school and is now being treated like she doesn't have any brains at all.  One of the students who really seems to be in Sarah's face at all times is Linda Hairston, whose dad writes editorial after editorial against equality and integration. Linda seems to believe everything her daddy does and worst of all, her dad is Linda's father's boss at the paper, so Sarah can't say anything back to her or else it might get back to him.

Linda hates Sarah especially because she makes her rethink everything she's always taken for granted. She hates her so much that she just can't stop thinking about her.

The way Sarah is treated by everyone in the school is so hard to read about. Could people really be that awful? Could the adults really look the other way? When you're reading Lies We Tell Ourselves, you are walking with Sarah down those hallways. This is an incredibly tense book because any move that Sarah makes could mean not only that she might hurt, or her fellow students might, or her family, or her entire community. That's a lot of pressure riding on a high school senior.

But Sarah is also a teenager who gets mad at her sister. She worries about what people think of her and wonders what her life will be like after high school. And Linda is more than just a force for evil. She's scared of what her dad thinks of her and willing to do just about anything to get out from under his thumb. But, whether she can look past all the messages he's taught her is another thing entirely.

Historical fiction lets us look beyond just dates and names. Lies We Tell Ourselves introduces you to two teenagers who are dealing with a huge amount of pressure and just happen to find themselves at an important point in history. It's an incredible way to step into the past and think about what's changed and what really hasn't.

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