Thursday, June 25, 2015

Lies We Tell Ourselves

Book 18 of my 2015 Reading Challenge
read from March 3 - 6

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Summary (via Goodreads)
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.
Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.

My Opinion
Five star read.  It obviously affected me because I woke up sweaty and screaming from a dream I had about this book.

This is definitely on the higher side of YA because of the language and the themes.  When I first started reading I worried about the ambition of the author to tackle 2 taboo subjects but it was compelling and interesting.  It was intense and I had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach the entire time I was reading, just waiting for the outcome.

Little details, like how each chapter title was a lie, added to the experience.  I also liked how the shifts in perspective were handled; it was nice not to have a 'back and forth' format.  And there wasn't a 'good' side and a 'bad' side, there were no caricatures.  Everyone has a little good and bad in them, and both sides have lies they tell themselves.  

The positive little moments and stands the characters take are believable, there's no huge 'kumbaya' moment.  The negative little moments are believable too, where one sentence can change so much.  

Interestingly for me, I felt worse watching the racism through Linda's eyes than I did living it through Sarah's.  

A word of advice: take a break before part 4 because once you start, you won't move again until the book is done.

A Few Quotes from the Book
" "Remember what to do when it gets hard," she says. "Take your worries to the Lord. Have faith. He's watching over all of you."
   I nod. Mama's right, or course.
   But I can't help wondering why the Lord has to watch over us from so far away."

"Someone has to show Sarah she's wrong.
  I may not be important enough to fix integration, but I can fix her."

" "People have always cared about [skin color]," Sarah says. "They've just cared in different ways. Sometimes it means the history books get written differently. Sometimes it means a war gets fought. Sometimes it means people wind up slaves. That's why I like History so much. It makes you think about those things." "

"I can't give up. That wouldn't be the honorable thing to do. Her path ahead couldn't be clearer. All I have to do is show her the way.
 Except that I'm starting to feel a little lost myself."

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