Queer Book Review: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

A book cover is rainbow colored. The image states, queer book review, the lies we tell ourselves by robin talley.

Queer book review! All reviews touch on genre/pot, tropes (if any), and quality of gay content, and include both spoiler and spoiler-lite versions. Catch up on my last book review of Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown.

Light Spoilers

Genre/Plot

Lies is a young adult fiction story of two queer girls on opposite sides of the desegregation controversy during the 1950s. A black girl, Sarah, is one of a Virginian town’s first black students at a white high school. A white student, Linda, daughter of an outspoken racist, is forced to work with Sarah on a school project. Can I make it any more obvious?

Characters/Relationships

Arguments and tension ensue. The characters never use labels, but they clearly have feelings for one another. I have to be totally honest though, I wasn’t a huge fan of the book. The characters seemed pretty one-dimensional and almost always reacted to one crap situation after another, rather than act on their own. The entire characters seemed to be just the product of their setting, and I wasn’t a huge fan.

Gay Content

Both girls struggle deeply with internalized homophobia, expectedly. Sarah’s internal struggles focuses a lot on her relationship with God, attempting rationalize that he makes no mistakes. She often describes her feelings for girls as “sick” and “wrong.”

Spoilers Ahead

No lesbians died, which is the highlight of the book. Honestly, I really didn’t like it. A lot of the book was spent on demonizing white people (which I’m not offended about because we are demons) but it became extremely boring. Sarah’s internal dialogue consisted exclusively of hating herself for her feelings or hating white people for supporting segregation.

To some extent, the book needs to discuss these topics and help people understand, but at the same time I don’t think I should be overly interested in understanding the racists’ point of views for obvious reasons. But I was so bored with Sarah’s internal dialogue that all I wanted to read was more of the white girl’s redemption arc.

Coming Up Next

My next book review will be for Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson. Have you read Lies We Tell Ourselves? What did you think? Was I way off the mark in your opinion? Let me know!

If you enjoyed this review, consider supporting my content by buying me a coffee!

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