Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

If you’re looking for a diverse book to read, then look no further. Lies We Tell Ourselves is the story about a black girl falling in love with a white girl during the Civil Rights movement.

I had to read this book for my local Waterstones book club and I am so glad that this was the book that was picked. It was so eye-opening and it taught me a lot about the Civil Right movement; I already imagined the integration of black people into white schools to be an unpleasant read, but the way that Talley tells it is horrifying: I wanted to cry for the black students.

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.

What was really interesting about this book is the arguments that Sarah and Linda have about race. It’s interesting to see Linda struggling with her argument of how black people and white people shouldn’t mix and it’s interesting to see how she can’t think of anything to advocate her argument.

Sarah is a character that I instantly fell in love with. I loved how protective she was over her younger sister and I love how she never gave up fighting for something that she belived in; a fight that – unfortunately – we still have to fight today: the fight that black lives matter.


“Other people will try to decide things for you, she says. They’ll try to tell you who you are. Remember, no matter what they say, you’re the only who really decides.” 
― Robin Talley, Lies We Tell Ourselves


For me, this book is the modern day ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. It tells the story of prejudice, hate, love and acceptance. Talley tells such a beautiful story of two girls finding themselves falling for eachother amongst the hateful backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement.

Talley writes in such a way that she doesn’t sugar coat what happened during the movement; she still includes the foul language that was thrown towards the members of the black community, she includes the fighting and hate crimes that were directed towards the black community and she wrote this in a way that also showed us that these are actions that are still going on today.

I feel like Lies We Tell Ourselves is a book that everyone has to read. Everyone. It is so powerful, moving and eye-opening.

I cannot wait to read more from Robin Talley and I look forward to seeing what other magnificent works she has hiding up her sleeves for the future.


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