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Read Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley Online or Offline



Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley: A Powerful Novel About Race and Love




Lies We Tell Ourselves is a young adult historical fiction novel by Robin Talley, published in 2014. It tells the story of two teenage girls who fall in love amid the racial turmoil of school integration in 1959 Virginia. The book has been praised for its realistic portrayal of the challenges and emotions faced by the characters, as well as its exploration of themes such as racism, prejudice, identity, courage, and love. In this article, I will give a brief summary of the book, analyze its historical and literary aspects, and share my personal opinion on why it is a worthwhile read.




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Introduction




What is the book about?




Lies We Tell Ourselves is set in 1959, when nine black students are chosen to integrate an all-white high school in Davisburg, Virginia. Among them is Sarah Dunbar, a smart and ambitious girl who dreams of becoming a lawyer. She faces daily harassment and abuse from her white classmates and teachers, who are determined to make her life miserable. She also has to deal with her strict father, who expects her to be a perfect daughter and student.


On the other side of the racial divide is Linda Hairston, the daughter of one of the most influential and outspoken segregationists in town. She has been raised to believe that blacks are inferior and that integration is a threat to her way of life. She is also unhappy with her controlling father, who wants her to marry a wealthy white boy and become a housewife.


When Sarah and Linda are forced to work together on a school project, they discover that they have more in common than they thought. They both feel trapped by their families and society, and they both long for freedom and happiness. They also develop an attraction for each other that goes beyond friendship. However, their relationship is forbidden by both their races and their sexualities. They have to face the lies they tell themselves and others, and decide whether they are willing to risk everything for love.


Why is it relevant today?




Lies We Tell Ourselves is not only a historical novel, but also a contemporary one. It deals with issues that are still relevant and important today, such as racism, homophobia, sexism, bullying, violence, and discrimination. It shows how these issues affect people's lives and choices, and how they can be overcome with courage and compassion. It also celebrates diversity and inclusion, and shows how love can transcend boundaries and stereotypes.


The book also resonates with today's readers because it features relatable and realistic characters who struggle with their identities and emotions. Sarah and Linda are not perfect heroes or villains; they are complex human beings who make mistakes and learn from them. They are also strong and brave girls who challenge the norms and expectations of their time. They inspire readers to be themselves and to stand up for what they believe in.


Summary of the book




The main characters




The book has two main characters: Sarah Dunbar and Linda Hairston. They are both 17 years old and seniors at Jefferson High School.


  • Sarah Dunbar is one of the nine black students who integrate the school. She is smart, hardworking, and determined. She wants to go to college and become a lawyer. She is also a talented singer and pianist. She is loyal to her friends and family, but also independent and rebellious. She is attracted to girls, but she tries to hide it because she thinks it is wrong and sinful.



  • Linda Hairston is the daughter of the editor of the local newspaper and a prominent segregationist. She is rich, popular, and confident. She wants to be a journalist and write about important issues. She is also a talented debater and leader. She is loyal to her father and his cause, but also curious and adventurous. She is attracted to girls, but she tries to deny it because she thinks it is unnatural and disgusting.



The main plot




The book follows the events of the first semester of the school year, from September to December 1959. It alternates between Sarah's and Linda's perspectives, showing how they experience the same situations differently.


  • In September, Sarah and eight other black students start attending Jefferson High School, which has been ordered by the federal court to integrate. They face hostility and violence from the white students, teachers, and parents, who protest and boycott the school. Sarah is assigned to remedial classes, even though she is an honors student. She is also spit on, pushed, tripped, and called names by her classmates. She tries to ignore them and focus on her studies, but she also feels angry and scared.



  • Linda is one of the white students who oppose integration. She believes that blacks are inferior and that they do not belong in her school. She joins the protests and boycotts organized by her father and his friends. She also harasses and insults Sarah and the other black students whenever she can. She tries to please her father and follow his ideals, but she also feels bored and restless.



  • In October, Sarah and Linda are paired up for a French project by their teacher, Mrs. Johnson, who supports integration. They have to write a report on France and present it in front of the class. They are reluctant to work together, but they have no choice. They start meeting at the public library after school, where they research and write their report. They also start talking to each other and learning more about each other's lives.



  • Linda discovers that Sarah is smart, talented, and ambitious. She also finds out that Sarah likes girls, which shocks and intrigues her. She realizes that she has feelings for Sarah, but she tries to suppress them because she thinks they are wrong.



  • Sarah discovers that Linda is curious, adventurous, and passionate. She also finds out that Linda likes girls, which surprises and excites her. She realizes that she has feelings for Linda, but she tries to hide them because she thinks they are dangerous.



  • In November, Sarah and Linda finish their project and present it in class. They do a good job and impress their teacher and classmates. They also share their first kiss at the library, which confuses and thrills them. They decide to keep seeing each other secretly, even though they know it is risky.



  • Sarah starts spending less time with her friends and family, who notice that she is acting differently. She also starts questioning her faith and her sexuality, which makes her feel guilty and conflicted.



  • Linda starts spending less time with her boyfriend Chuck, who notices that she is losing interest in him. She also starts questioning her father's views and her sexuality, which makes her feel angry and ashamed.



  • In December, Sarah and Linda's relationship is exposed by Chuck, who sees them kissing at the library. He tells Linda's father, who tells Sarah's father, who tells the school principal. They are both punished by their families and the school. They are also ostracized by their peers and communities.



  • Sarah is beaten by her father, who disowns her for being a disgrace to their family and their race. She is also expelled from the school for being immoral and disruptive.



  • Linda is locked up by her father, who forces her to undergo conversion therapy for being sick and unnatural. She is also suspended from the school for being indecent and rebellious.



  • Sarah decides to run away from home with the help of Judy Simmons, one of the white students who befriended her at school. Judy takes her to Washington D.C., where she has an aunt who can help Sarah find a new school.



  • Linda decides to escape from her home with the help of Chuck, who feels sorry for her despite being hurt by her betrayal. Chuck takes her to Richmond, where he has a cousin who can help Linda find a new job.



The main themes




Lies We Tell Ourselves explores several themes that are relevant and important for both historical and contemporary readers. Some of the main themes are:


  • Racism and prejudice: The book shows the harsh realities of racism and prejudice in 1950s America, where blacks and whites were segregated and discriminated against by law and by society. The book exposes the cruelty and violence that the black students faced at school and in town, as well as the ignorance and bigotry that the white students displayed. The book also challenges the stereotypes and assumptions that both races had about each other, and shows how they can be overcome by education and empathy.



  • Homophobia and sexism: The book shows the difficulties and dangers of being gay or lesbian in a time and place where homosexuality was considered a sin and a crime. The book portrays the internal and external conflicts that Sarah and Linda faced because of their sexual orientation, as well as the oppression and abuse that they suffered from their families and society. The book also shows the sexism that both girls faced as women who wanted to pursue careers and independence, instead of conforming to the traditional roles of wives and mothers.



  • Identity and courage: The book shows the struggles and growth of Sarah and Linda as they try to find their true selves and their place in the world. The book illustrates how they had to deal with the lies they tell themselves and others, such as denying their feelings, hiding their talents, or following their fathers' expectations. The book also celebrates how they had to find their courage to be honest, to stand up for themselves, and to follow their dreams.



  • Love and friendship: The book shows the power and beauty of love and friendship in overcoming adversity and hatred. The book depicts the romance between Sarah and Linda, which was forbidden but genuine. The book also depicts the friendship between Sarah and Judy, which was unexpected but supportive. The book demonstrates how love and friendship can help people heal, grow, and change for the better.



Analysis of the book




The historical context




Lies We Tell Ourselves is based on real historical events that took place in 1950s America, especially in Virginia. The book is inspired by the stories of the Little Rock Nine, who were the first black students to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957; and by the stories of other black students who integrated schools across Virginia in 1959.


The book reflects the historical context of the Civil Rights Movement, which was a social movement that aimed to end racial discrimination and segregation in America. The movement was led by activists such as Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, and others, who organized protests, boycotts, marches, sit-ins, and other forms of civil disobedience to demand equal rights for blacks.


The book also reflects the historical context of the Cold War, which was a period of political and ideological tension between the United States and the Soviet Union after World War II. The Cold War influenced American society in various ways, such as creating a climate of fear, suspicion, and paranoia; promoting a culture of consumerism, conformity, and patriotism; and affecting foreign policy, education, science, technology, arts, media, and more.


The literary style




and actions of the characters and the atmosphere and events of the setting. The book uses a dual narrative structure, which allows the reader to see both sides of the story and to compare and contrast the perspectives and experiences of Sarah and Linda. The book also uses a first-person point of view, which creates a sense of intimacy and immediacy with the characters and their emotions. The book uses a simple and clear language that is appropriate for young adult readers, but also incorporates some historical terms and references that add authenticity and depth to the story.


The strengths and weaknesses




Lies We Tell Ourselves is a well-written and well-researched book that has many strengths and few weaknesses. Some of the strengths are:


  • The book is based on real historical facts and events, which makes it more credible and relevant. The book also provides a bibliography and an author's note that explain the sources and inspirations behind the story.



  • The book is engaging and compelling, which makes it easy and enjoyable to read. The book has a fast-paced and suspenseful plot that keeps the reader interested and invested in the outcome. The book also has a satisfying and hopeful ending that resolves the main conflicts and shows the growth and change of the characters.



  • The book is diverse and inclusive, which makes it more representative and relatable. The book features racially diverse and LGBTQ+ characters who are complex and realistic. The book also addresses important social issues such as racism, homophobia, sexism, bullying, violence, and discrimination.



  • The book is educational and inspirational, which makes it more meaningful and impactful. The book teaches the reader about a significant period of American history that is often overlooked or misrepresented. The book also inspires the reader to be more aware, empathetic, and courageous in their own lives.



Some of the weaknesses are:


  • The book is sometimes graphic and disturbing, which makes it more challenging and uncomfortable to read. The book depicts some scenes of violence, abuse, torture, self-harm, and suicide that may be triggering or upsetting for some readers. The book also uses some offensive language and slurs that may be offensive or hurtful for some readers.



  • The book is sometimes unrealistic and idealistic, which makes it less believable and relatable. The book portrays some situations and events that are unlikely or improbable in reality, such as Sarah's escape from her home or Linda's conversion therapy. The book also portrays some characters and relationships that are too perfect or too flawed in reality, such as Judy's friendship with Sarah or Chuck's forgiveness of Linda.



Conclusion




What did I learn from the book?




Lies We Tell Ourselves is a book that taught me a lot about history, society, and myself. From reading this book, I learned:


  • How racism and prejudice can affect people's lives and choices in negative ways.



  • How homophobia and sexism can affect people's identities and emotions in negative ways.



  • How identity and courage can affect people's lives and choices in positive ways.



and emotions in positive ways.


Who should read the book?




Lies We Tell Ourselves is a book that can be enjoyed and appreciated by a wide range of readers. Some of the readers who may find this book especially interesting and relevant are:


  • Young adult readers who are looking for a historical fiction novel that is engaging, compelling, and diverse.



  • LGBTQ+ readers who are looking for a novel that features queer characters and themes that are realistic, respectful, and empowering.



  • History lovers who are looking for a novel that is based on real historical events and facts that are often overlooked or misrepresented.



  • Social justice advocates who are looking for a novel that addresses important social issues such as racism, homophobia, sexism, bullying, violence, and discrimination.



  • Book lovers who are looking for a novel that is well-written and well-researched, with a fast-paced and suspenseful plot, complex and realistic characters, and a satisfying and hopeful ending.



Where can I get the book?




Lies We Tell Ourselves is available in various formats and platforms. You can get the book as:


  • A hardcover or paperback book from your local bookstore or online retailer.



  • An ebook from your preferred ebook store or app.



  • An audiobook from your preferred audiobook service or app.



  • A free download from the Internet Archive (https://archive.org/details/lieswetelloursel0000tall) or other free ebook websites.



FAQs




Here are some frequently asked questions about Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley:


  • Who is Robin Talley?



Robin Talley is an American author of young adult books. She is a queer author who grew up in southwest Virginia and now lives in Washington, D.C., with her wife and their rambunctious kiddos. She has written seven novels for teen readers, including The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre, Music From Another World , Pulp, and As I Descended. Her books have won accolades including the Amnesty CILIP Honour and the Concorde Book Award, have been short-listed for the Lambda Literary Award and the CILIP Carnegie Medal, and have appeared on the Junior Library Guild, Amelia Bloomer Project, Kids Indie Next, and ALA Rainbow lists. You can find her at www.robintalley.com.


  • What inspired Robin Talley to write Lies We Tell Ourselves?



Robin Talley was inspired to write Lies We Tell Ourselves by her own experience growing up in Virginia and learning about its history of racial segregation and school integration. She was also inspired by the stories of the Little Rock Nine and other black students who integrated schools across Virginia in 1959. She wanted to write a novel that would show the realities and emotions of those students, as well as explore how their experiences would be different if they were also gay or lesbian.


  • Is Lies We Tell Ourselves based on a true story?



Lies We Tell Ourselves is based on real historical facts and events, but it is not based on a specific true story. The characters of Sarah Dunbar and Linda Hairston are fictional creations of Robin Talley, as well as their families, friends, and romantic relationship. However, some of the incidents and situations that they face in the book are inspired by or similar to those faced by real black students who integrated schools in Virginia in 1959.


  • Is Lies We Tell Ourselves appropriate for young readers?



torture, self-harm, and suicide that may be triggering or upsetting for some readers. The book also uses some offensive language and slurs that may be offensive or hurtful for some readers. The book does not intend to glorify or justify these elements, but rather to show the realities and consequences of them. The book also provides a content warning and a list of resources for readers who may need support or help.


  • The book is sometimes biased and one-sided, which makes it more subjective and less objective. The book is written from the perspectives of Sarah and Linda, who are both unreliable narrators who have their own opinions and agendas. The book does not provide a balanced or neutral view of the historical events and issues that it portrays, but rather a personal and emotional one. The book does not claim to be a factual or comprehensive account of history, but rather a fictional and creative one.







This is the end of my article on Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley. I hope you enjoyed reading it and learned something new from it. If you are interested in reading the book yourself, you can find it in various formats and platforms as mentioned above. Thank you for your time and attention. 71b2f0854b


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