Lies We Tell Ourselves


How did I get it?:
NetGalley-thank to Harlequin UK


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.


I actually don’t know where to begin with my thoughts on Lies We Tell Ourselves which is an outstanding piece of historical fiction. I was lost for words when reading it, so God knows how I’m going to sum up my thoughts in a review. I will warn you though, it’s not an easy read. It’s quite harrowing which isn’t a surprise when you consider the subject matter. Lies We Tell Ourselves is one of those books that makes you hate humanity, but at the same time be utterly grateful that times have moved on (although I recognise that racism is still rife in many places, at least it isn’t as extreme as it used to be!)

The story is told from two different perspectives. The reader hears from Sarah who is black and Linda who is white. They hate each other at the start, but they begin to develop a different kind of relationship. One neither was expecting.

I liked that the story was told from both perspectives. Their voices were incredibly clear so I didn’t feel confused at any point as to who was narrating. I have to admit, I found reading about what Sarah was going through incredibly hard. I hate racism and the racism Sarah encounters feels so real it made me feel incredibly uncomfortable. That’s testament to Robin Talley’s writing though. She made me feel so much for Sarah. I could understand why Linda felt nervous to stand up for Sarah too.  She may have not been suffering from racism, but she had her own struggles with her father and what was expected for her future.

I can’t do justice to this beautiful yet sad book, so all I can do is urge you to read it and hopefully feel the level of compassion that I felt for our main characters. This book will stay with me for a while.

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

A poignant, emotional read dealing with racism and many other issues!

20 thoughts on “Lies We Tell Ourselves

  1. Terrific review! I completely agree — this book was often difficult and painful to read, yet so beautiful and with such an important story to tell.

  2. I just picked this up and am torn – part of me is very much looking forward to reading it (I enjoy issue-driven plots that assess social pressure) but I’m also nervous that it’ll be heavy. But based on this review, it sounds worth it!

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