Talley, Robin. Lies We Tell Ourselves. New York: Harlequin Teen, 2014. 978-0-373-21133-3. 384 p. $17.99. Gr. 9 and up.
Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to integrate a small Virginian high school in 1959. Sarah, who had previously been an honors student at her old high school, is placed into remedial classes for no other reason than the color of her skin. Alternating chapters throughout the book are told from Sarah’s perspective and from a white privileged classmate, Linda Hairston. Each chapter’s title is a lie that either Sarah or Linda tells herself as a way to deal with topical issues of racism, sexism, gender, homosexuality, and child abuse. Forced to work together on a school project, the two young women must face the realities of race, power, and how they really feel about each other. Talley could have written a simple story about desegregation in the South but digs deeper into interracial and homosexual relationships during a time period where both were not only not widely accepted but in many instances illegal.
Historical Fiction Robin Burns, Salisbury High School
I really enjoyed this complicated story of friendship and redemption set against the backdrop of 1950’s Virginia. Talley offers no easy answers or happy endings for her characters but instead examines the traits both good and bad in all of us. This coming of age story gives a glimpse inside the mind of a teenage girl who has suffered abuse but is not just a victim. The story although set in a different decade will appeal to teens seeking characters they can relate to who are also struggling with their identities.