Thursday 16 October 2014

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

The white people are waiting for us.
Chuck sees them first. He’s gone out ahead of our group to peer around the corner by the hardware store. From there you can see all of Jefferson High.
Published by Mira Ink in October 2014
Pages - 368
It's 1959. The battle for civil rights is raging. And it's Sarah Dunbar's first day of school, as one of the first black students at the previously all-white Jefferson High. No one wants Sarah there. Not the Governor. Not the teachers. And certainly not the students – especially Linda Hairston, daughter of the town’s most ardent segregationist. Sarah and Linda have every reason to despise each other. But as a school project forces them to spend time together, the less their differences seem to matter. And Sarah and Linda start to feel something they've never felt before. Something they're both determined ignore. Because it's one thing to be frightened by the world around you - and another thing altogether when you're terrified of what you feel inside.
This is a powerful read and not one that can be rushed. You seriously have to take your time reading it, to make sure the events that occur in the book really hit home. The book is told in dual narrative and you get a complete picture of what it was like to live through integration during 1959. Not only was one of the main characters, Sarah, trying to fit into a white school where she wasn’t wanted, but she was also trying to deal with the strong feelings that she had been made to believe were unnatural .
The author, Robin Talley, has taken on two might big issues and dealt with them amazingly well. The integration issue alone, could have carried this book through, but the author added an LGBT element too. If I’m honest, I would have liked to see the growing relationship between Sarah and Linda given more space in the book, as it was beautiful to watch as they realised there was nothing wrong with feeling the way they do for each other. 
I love that that the story is told from both girl’s point of views. Sarah is one of the strongest female characters I have come across. She holds her head up high as people throw things at her, hurt her and call her names. The language alone in the book shocked me, so to have those names called at you every minute of the day would be draining to say the least. Deep down, Satrah believes that she wants to be at the all white school, but as the story proceeds, you realise she is doing it mainly to please her parents. Linda on the other hand, is absolutely positive that every thing her father had fought for, as he continually attempts to stop any form of integration was for the good of the community, but as events unfold in front of her, she realises that nothing her father says is right.
In this book, you get a first hand experience of what it must have been like to live through such a huge event in history. You find yourself caught up in the thoughts,feelings and actions as these kids try to live up to their parents dreams, even though their parent’s demands and actions cause them a lot of pain and misery.
The book sparks a time of change when young people were just beginning to stand up for what they believe in. Girls were realising that their was more to life than marrying young and keeping house.  I really enjoyed this book and I do think it could be used as a resource for any schools studying American History, as there would be so many factors within it to focus on.

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