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1001 Stories Collection

Lies We Tell Ourselves

1001 Lies We Tell Ourselves
Added on 08th August 2020

Author Robin Talley
First published 2014
Publisher Harlequin Teen

A young adult novel set in Virginia in 1959 as the first black students are allowed to attend previously all white high schools.


In Virginia, 1959, the fight for civil rights is underway. Linda Hairston’s family oppose the integration of Jefferson High School, while Sarah Dunbar, one of the first black students chosen to attend, feels punished more than privileged to be there. When the girls are paired together for a school project, they must learn to drown out the voices trying to separate them.

Why we chose it

Set in 1959 when black students were first allowed to attend previously all-white high schools, the novel explores themes of colour, gender, class and sexuality against a backdrop of racism and prejudice.

Where it came from

Robin Talley grew up in Virginia where Lies We Tell Ourselves is set. She based the story on her parents’ experiences of the state while they were growing up during the 1960s. It was a time when schools were becoming integrated for the first time. As a queer author and with her career background in LGBTQ+ rights among other causes, she often uses her stories to discuss issues surrounding the LGBTQ+ community, saying that books offer ‘readers a great opportunity to reflect on their place in the larger world.’

Where it went next

Lies We Tell Ourselves became a New York Times best-seller and won the inaugural Amnesty CILIP Honour and the Concorde Book Award. It received many more nominations including the Lambda Literary Award and Goodreads Choice Award. Although missing out on several honours, Robin Talley says she was pleased to be considered alongside some of her personal favourite authors including Tim Federle and E Lockhart.

Associated stories

In addition to Lies We Tell Ourselves, other novels by Robin Talley include What We Left Behind (2015) As I Descended (2016), Our Own Private Universe (2017), Pulp (2018) and Music from Another World (2020). Several of her short stories also appear in anthology collections.

Added on 08th August 2020

Author Robin Talley
First published 2014
Publisher Harlequin Teen