Lies We Tell Ourselves


Lies We Tell Ourselves might be fiction, but the story is true — and it’s one we should never forget.” – NPR

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.

Lies We Tell Ourselves was released in September 2014 by Harlequin Teen.

Praise for Lies We Tell Ourselves:

  • A New York Times bestseller
  • Winner of the inaugural Amnesty CILIP Honour
  • Winner of the Concorde Book Award
  • Short-listed for the CILIP Carnegie Medal
  • Lambda Literary Award finalist for Children’s/Young Adult LGBT Fiction
  • Junior Library Guild selection
  • World Book Night 2017 selection
  • Capitol Choices list
  • Amelia Bloomer Project list
  • Goodreads Choice Awards semifinalist
  • Book Expo America Young Adult Editors Buzz Book
  • American Booksellers Association Indies Introduce New Voices Selection
  • New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association Pick of the Lists
  • 2016 ABC Best Books for Young Readers
  • Young Adult Library Services Association 2015 Teens’ Top Ten nominee
  • Pennsylvania Young Readers Choice Awards nominee

“Talley uses these alternating points of view to generate an absolutely thrilling, head-over-heels love story that owes a great deal to traditional romance novel modes of storytelling (while blowing a big raspberry at their whiteness and heteronormativity). … Lies We Tell Ourselves might be fiction, but the story is true — and it’s one we should never forget.” – NPR

“A beautifully written and compelling read.” – School Library Journal

“A well-handled debut.” – Booklist

“A piercing look at the courage it takes to endure…forms of extreme hatred, violence, racism and sexism.” – Kirkus Reviews

“The big issues of school desegregation in the 1950s, interracial dating, and same-sex couples have the potential to be too much for one novel, but the author handles all with aplomb. What makes it even better is that both Linda’s and Sarah’s points of view are revealed as the novel unfolds, giving meaning to their indoctrinated views. Educators looking for materials to support the civil rights movement will find a gem in this novel, and librarians seeking titles for their LGBT displays should have this novel on hand…. This is a meaningful tale about integration.” – VOYA


Lies We Tell Ourselves is a phenomenal story of two high-school seniors experiencing desegregation for the first time in their Virginia school. The story provides no easy solutions; instead, it offers a solid and responsible ending that leaves hope for both girls to find a better future, while indicating that there is still much left for us to do.” – Sara Hines, Eight Cousins Books