Lies we tell ourselves / Robin Talley.

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  • Additional Information
    • Abstract:
      Summary: In 1959 Virginia, Sarah, a black student who is one of the first to attend a newly integrated school, forces Linda, a white integration opponent's daughter, to confront harsh truths when they work together on a school project.
    • Notes:
      Includes discussion questions.
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Booklist Reviews 2014 July #1

"The white people are waiting for us." So opens Talley's tense, dramatic, alternating-perspective historical drama. Starting a new high school is tough enough, but entering senior year during the Virginia school desegregation of 1959 ranks as even tougher. For Sarah and a handful of other black students, it proves to be an almost insurmountable challenge. The forceful and disturbing opening, complete with insults and slurs hurled like missiles as the black students parse a crushing crowd blocking their entry, gives way to a thorough exploration of more subtle forms of institutionalized and microaggressive bigotry from the viewpoints of both Sarah and Linda, a white student on the other side of the issue. Linda and her family believe in "separate but equal," and she defends the idea in her editorials for the school paper. Yet her pairing with Sarah on a project begins to shake her conviction, a transformation Talley handles without ever making Linda seem overly radical or indulgent. A well-handled debut. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2015 Spring

In 1959 Virginia, an African American star student, Sarah, and her peers navigate racism and bigotry in the white high school they are desegregating. Amid battles for respect, Sarah befriends Linda, daughter of a vocal racist, and the two learn that their families are actually more alike than different. A plot twist regarding their friendship adds greater depth to the well-written historical story.

PW Reviews 2014 September #5

Talley's first novel takes a close, honest look at school integration and sexual identity in a small fictional Virginia town in 1959. The story unfolds through the alternating narratives of two high school seniors: Linda Hairston, the white daughter of a journalist who writes editorials opposing integration, and Sarah Dunbar, one of 10 new black students at their recently integrated high school, where racial tensions are running high. When Linda and Sarah are forced to work together on a class project, they are immediately drawn toward one another and mutually terrified of their attraction. Linda, as a result of her abusive father's influence, views integration as an irritating disruption, while Sarah eloquently debates Linda's negative perceptions. Chapters begin with lies that Sarah and Linda disprove, such as "I'm not brave enough for this" and "None of this has anything to do with me." Talley details the girls' growth as they learn to form their own moral codes, while steeping readers in a pivotal moment of history. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jim McCarthy, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (Oct.)

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