Book review – Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Caidyn's review (1)

Lies We Tell Ourselves


CW: racism, sexism, internalized homophobia, and child abuse

Robin Talley is definitely a new favorite author for me!!

Ugh, this book. I really enjoyed it (as you can tell by my rating) but I want to start it off with this: I don’t think this book would go over as well if it was published today. Now, I enjoyed it. I really loved it. However, there’s such a push for ownvoices books. In other words, this book could have been written by a black author since one of the perspectives was of a young black woman during integration.

However, Talley really did her research. It’s a great example of authors being able to write whatever they want, so long as they do their research. Yes, I prefer ownvoices authors. I actively seek out ownvoices reviewers when possible/needed to see what they thought. But Talley convinced me in this book. She perfectly captured the period and the feelings that I expected them to feel.

So, this book follows two young women in their senior year of high school. Sarah is new because it’s the south during integration and she’s a black woman going to a white school for the first time. Her parents want their kids to have the best education and to be around the best people. She, her sister, and their friends all band together to go to this one school.

Then, there’s Linda. Linda is a white woman and her father is a journalist who writes very racist articles. She doesn’t quite have his opinions, however. She’s also dating the coach at school to get away from a family she doesn’t want to be around.

What they both have in common is they’re both into women — or Sarah’s a lesbian and Linda is interested in men and women. It’s never stated so I don’t feel like assuming that!

They’re forced to work together on a project and, in the end, become friendly. Sarah puts down whatever racist thing that Linda says, educating her in the process. And then something more happens between them.

I really loved that this switched between both the perspectives. I wasn’t sure if I’d be behind the romance, but I actually was in the end. Why? Because I felt like it was believable. I felt like the feelings that they had and the character arc for both were very believable. It was very well-written as usual.

Sarah’s internalized homophobia was so great and I loved to see both of them break it all down. In the end, this was a heartwarming book. It was hard to read, though, because of the descriptions of racist actions. Spitting on people, throwing things, beatings just because white people could get away with it. It was a horrific reminder of what was the norm in America for so many years. (And this country still is racist, tbh.)

I already wish there was a sequel about them and where they end up with life! It was such a great book. While I wish it was ownvoices, Talley captured the period perfectly with each of the characters. I can’t wait until I read another book by her!

Talk to me!
Have you read this? What did you think?
Do you know of any ownvoices books set in this period that are also LGBTQ+?

Book review – The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Caidyn's review (1)

The Night Circus


This book isn’t my usual fare. It’s magical realism, which I don’t usually like, and it’s basically a romance book… which I don’t read. And, surprise surprise, I liked it even more than I liked it the first time around!

It was just… beautiful.

I love the way Morgenstern can tell a story. It’s not necessarily chronological and, for this story, it wouldn’t have worked. We needed the jumping around, the not knowing why someone or something is important. In a way, it was like watching a circus act. You don’t know where it’s going just that everything you see is spectacular in its own way.

Two magicians decide to play a game again. Not a game of skill, but a game of endurance. Who can they teach better to win a game where the whole world is their chessboard. Celia shows up on her father’s, Prospero or Hector Bowen, doorstep after her mother commits suicide. Marco is chosen by a magician and is taken in.

The playing field for this game? A circus of dreams that they weave together to show off their own power.

And, yet, Marco and Celia fall in love. Which they shouldn’t do because it makes things worse in the end. I do love the way they came together and the way the relationship went. I think my thing with romance is that I love when two people get together who maybe shouldn’t and when it’s about a game, playing each other until someone gets the upper hand. It’s the only way I can do romance. Usually that means the story’s dark, but this was incredibly light and beautiful.

I think what really sells the story is Morgenstern’s writing. She can paint a beautiful scene that you can see in your child’s mind, like the circus that you always want to see as a kid or a magic show. All of that wonder and awe. I read the book, but I think that this would be a captivating audiobook to listen to.

The plot itself is rather nonexistent for most of the book. There isn’t a discernable one and I thought that I figured it out, but that wasn’t the real story. The real story is very hidden, which I loved because it made it feel as if there were multiple stories wrapped into this one book.

It’s a beautifully woven book, as delicate and intricate as the magic in this book. It’s one of those books you can sit down to on a gloomy, dark day — maybe raining lightly, but not absolutely storming — with soft classical music playing (I thought a string quartet station was the best fit) and allow to wrap you in a warm hug.

In short, this book definitely moved to my all time favorites because it’s so unexpectedly beautiful.

Talk to me!
Have you read this?
What did you think?

First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

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