Book Review: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

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Synopsis: 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.

Why I Chose This Book: With the tension going on in our country, it’s more important than ever to listen to perspectives other than our own and really examine our prejudices.

First Impressions: I love this cover so much. It’s sharp, clean, and shows almost literally what a target Sarah became in the school. In a sea of white faces, Sarah stands out, which could not be more relevant to the content.

What I Liked: Almost everything! The stories told in this book are different than mine both in race and sexual orientation, and it helped me see how terrifying it must have been to be alive in this time period when you vary from what is accepted.

You know how everyone says if they were in pivotal moments of history, they would have done the right thing, but there’s no way to really know. Today, similar things are happening. Not to the same degree, but it looks like we’re on that path. There was a moment, when Sarah describes how there are no white people helping them, standing up for them, or supporting them. And I saw that I would be on the right side of history. That felt like such a relief, and I’ll be grateful to this book for that.

One of the most surprising things about this book was the romantic story line. It doesn’t really mention it in the online synopsis, which is what I’d read before ordering the book. But the description on the back cover talks about it more explicitly, which I love. I really loved this perspective, and seeing a queer WOC as a lead character who is also incredibly smart, loving, kind, and strong was amazing. This book has great representation.

It was also incredibly well written. I made several notes in the margins and underlined quotes all over it.

What I Didn’t Like: The worst thing about this book was how easy it was to slip into Linda’s racist mindset while reading her perspective. When I went back to reality after reading for a while, I would randomly have racist thoughts. Thoughts I have never believed in the slightest! I had never understood how people who say, think, and do racist things can think they are correct, but this book showed me how effortless it is to subscribe to that way of thinking. I hated that realization, and I hate that now I can understand even a fraction of that mindset.

I also didn’t realize that Robin Talley is a white woman, and I’m not sure how I feel about a white woman writing the black perspective here. I’m an advocate of lifting up the voices of those who belong to the culture instead of telling them how it is, so I’m iffy on this. It’s something I need to discuss so I can figure out how I feel.

Ratings and Recommendations: Good for fans of historical fiction, current events, issue books, and diverse books.

2. Loved It

Final Thoughts: This is a book that everyone should read right now. We need to see what our future will be if we don’t get off this path of hate and ignorance. I cannot stress enough how doomed we are to repeat history if we don’t learn our lesson.

Sound off in the comments: What did you think of this book? Have you read something similar? What is your stance on Talley being white and writing such a huge part of black history? Let me know!

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Why Valentine’s Day is Awesome and Not an Excuse for You to be Bitter, or, Death to ‘Singles Awareness Day’

Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday. It always has been. Typically when I tell people this, they assume that I’m one of those people that is constantly in a relationship. Nope. I’ve only been ‘taken’ for four V Days of my 22 years. The reason I love Valentine’s Day? Because I love Love.

There are so many kinds of love that can be celebrated on February 14th. Familial, Friendly, Self, Spiritual, and so many more other than romantic or sexual. If you don’t have a romantic relationship, who cares? Do something for yourself, have dinner with your family, go catch a movie with your besties, spend some time focusing on your beliefs. There are so many ways to celebrate aside from showering your S.O. with flowers and chocolates.

I’ve decided to point out the flaws in some of the most common Anti-Valentine’s arguments and hopefully convince you to smile and enjoy the day instead of raining on everyone else’s parade.

DISCLAIMER: If you have recently gotten out of a relationship, got dumped on V Day, or have a legitimate reason to dislike the holiday, PLEASE do not continue reading. Not an ounce of this is about you. You heal however you need to and get back to your happiness. Don’t let today get you down. You focus on your needs first. You don’t owe anyone anything until you are okay again. You exist, and that is all that the world can ask of you.

Argument #1: “You should treat them that way every day of the year!”

-If you feel this way about Valentine’s, I’m going to assume you don’t celebrate Mothers/Fathers day, birthdays, anniversaries, or anything about appreciation.
-Sometimes people can’t afford to take their SO out every single day, to surprise them with flowers every week, or to buy them cheesy stuffed animals all the time. What’s wrong with having one day to save up for and just fill it with smiles for the one that you love?
-Sometimes it’s nice to just have a set aside day to dress up and eat at a fancy restaurant. What’s wrong with that?
-Why do you hate happiness??!?

Argument #2: “It’s just a commercial holiday invented by greeting card companies to make money!”

-I’m not even going to waste my time with you.
-Google is your friend and if you keep up this Debbie Downer attitude it may be the only friend you have left
-Valentine’s Day can be entirely homemade (that’s how I celebrate it and it’s probably the holiday on which I spend the least amount of money).
-You could just shop at local mom and pop florists, bakeries, and restaurants and hit those companies where it won’t affect them at all because you’re one freaking person while supporting local businesses instead of being bitter and boring and predictable.

Argument #3:”Singles Awareness Day!!”

-OMG JUST SHUT UP AND GET A FREAKIN LIFE ALREADY
-SERIOUSLY THIS IS THE DAY I UNFRIEND AT LEAST TEN PEOPLE ON FB A YEAR
-The second this phrase leaves your lips unironically, everyone knows you are too preoccupied with what people think of you and that you need to become less self-centered and enjoy your life because because baby you are pathetic
– I honestly don’t care if I’m hurting anyone’s feelings anymore because at this point you’re begging for a punch to the face
– Instead of letting the world around you decide how you feel about your life, take that power away from them and focus on what makes YOU happy today. TA DA you’re no longer focusing on being single, you’re focused on what an awesome life you could have if you just acted this this all the time. Call it Self-Love Day if you need to, for Pete’s sake.

Argument #4: “It sets impossible standards!!”

-If this is true for your relationship, then you need to have a serious talk with your SO and decide what you’re going to do for the holiday, if anything at all. If you want a stress free day, do this in advance. Periodically refresh each other on what you’re going to do, whether it be something like dinner and a movie or only handmade gifts or a $20 limit, so that one of you doesn’t get your hopes up for a big surprise or romantic gesture. This will only be bad for your relationship if you let the hype control how you celebrate.
– Seriously, this is the easiest thing to avoid.
– If you have done all this and your SO is still disappointed that you didn’t rent out a restaurant and fill it with roses and propose with a 100 karat ring, you either need to talk it out and find the reasons why they had this expectation and how to fix it, or see if it’s something you can’t move past and if that’s a deal breaker or not. This is something that can make or break a relationship and it should be taken seriously.

Argument #5: “The world expects you to have a good Valentine’s story about how you celebrated it!”

-YOU DON’T OWE THE WORLD ANYTHING
-THE WORLD CAN SUCK IT BECAUSE YOU DO WHAT MAKES YOU AND YOUR SO HAPPY THAT DAY
-WHO THE FRICK FRACK CARES AS LONG AS YOU DID SOMETHING FOR EACH OTHER THEN OTHERS WILL BE HAPPY FOR YOU
-IF THEY ARE NOT, CUT THEM OUT OF YOUR LIFE BECAUSE THAT IS SOME SHADY BEHAVIOR IF EVER I HEARD OF SOME
-IF YOU ARE CELEBRATING FOR THE SAKE OF A STORY OR BRAGGING RIGHTS OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT THEN YOU DO NOT DESERVE A RELATIONSHIP YOU DESERVE A QUICK TRIP TO CHURCH BECAUSE YOU ARE WAY TOO SELF-CENTERED AND AWFUL TO DESERVE ANY KIND OF GENUINE EFFORT TODAY SERIOUSLY THAT IS MESSED UP AND YOU NEED TO GO HOME AND THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU’VE DONE

Argument #6: “My SO is being really awful today/lately and I just don’t feel like celebrating it.”

-You do not have to celebrate it if it is not genuine.
-If you don’t feel like putting in the effort because you don’t think they’ve earned it or you aren’t in a great place right now, please please PLEASE talk this out with your SO because you may have a more seriously problem in your relationship than a holiday.
-Important: VALENTINE’S DAY IS ABOUT GENUINE ACTS OF LOVE. IF YOU DO NOT FEEL LIKE IT, DO NOT FORCE YOURSELF TO PRETEND. THIS HURTS EVERYONE INVOLVED.
-Seriously, I have had an ex tell me that he was trying to feel something for me and that just made me feel like a bag of tears and I doubt I will ever be 100% how that felt to hear. Please only be sincere. Do. Not. Force. Emotion. You could give them a complex that haunts all relationships to come.

Argument #7: “Cupid is so creepy!”

-I 100% agree with you
-Can we just ban the baby with wings and arrows?
-Nominations for new V Day Mascots starting now

Overall, Valentine’s is completely what you make of it. If you want to spend the day as a bitter cynic, stuffing your face, crying, and making everyone else uncomfortable, go for it. Just don’t start asking the universe why you’re single because your inability to let one single freaking holiday go by without hating yourself is a great place to start finding faults.

Okay, that might have been a little mean. But at the same time, maybe you need some #realtalk.