Aug 29, 2014

Exclusive Excerpt: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley + Giveaway

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
Release Date: September 30, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen; 384 pages
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.

Except from Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Jefferson High School, Davisburg, Virginia
February 2, 1959

The white people are waiting for us.

Chuck sees them first. He’s gone out ahead of our group to peer around the corner by the hardware store. From there you can see all of Jefferson High.

The gleaming red brick walls run forty feet high. The building is a block wide, and the windowpanes are spotless. A heavy concrete arch hangs over the two-story wood-and-glass doors at the front entrance.
The only thing between us and the school is the parking lot. And the white people.

We’ve all walked past Jefferson a thousand times before, but this will be the first time any of us steps inside. Until today, those big wooden doors might as well have been triple-locked, and we didn’t have the key.

Our school, on the other side of town, is only one story. It’s narrow—no wider than the Food Town. Our teachers put boards in the windows to cover the cracks in the glass, but that’s not enough to stop the wind from whistling past us at our desks.

Our old school, anyway. Jefferson is supposed to be our school now.

If we can make it through those big brown doors.

“They’re out there all right,” Chuck says when he comes back. He’s trying to smile, but he just looks frozen. “Somebody sent out the welcome committee.”

No one laughs. We can hear the white people. They’re shouting, but the sound is too disjointed for us to make out the words.

I’m glad. I don’t want to hear. I don’t want my little sister Ruth to hear it, either. I try to pull her closer to me, but she jerks away. Ruth will be fifteen in two weeks, and she already thinks she’s too old to need help from her big sister.

“If anything happens, you come find me, all right?” I whisper. “Don’t trust the teachers or the white people. Come straight to me.”

“I can take care of myself,” Ruth whispers back. She steps away from me and links arms with Yvonne, one of the other freshmen.

“What are you gonna do if they try something?” Chuck asks Ennis. He keeps his voice low, trying to blend in with the dull roar coming from the school, so the younger kids won’t hear him. Chuck, Ennis and I are the only three seniors in our group. Most of the others are freshmen and sophomores. “They’ve got some big guys on that football team.”

“Never mind that,” Ennis says, raising his voice so the others can hear. “They won’t try anything, not in school. All they’ll do is call us names, and we’ll just ignore them and keep walking. Isn’t that right, Sarah?”
“That’s right,” I echo. I want to sound in charge, like Mrs. Mullins, but my voice wobbles.

Ennis holds my eye. His face looks like Daddy’s did this morning, when he watched Ruth and me climb into the carpool station wagon. Like he’s taking a good, long look, in case he doesn’t get another chance.

Ennis sounds like Daddy, too. My father and Mrs. Mullins and the rest of the NAACP leaders have been coaching us on the rules since the summer, when the court first said the school board had to let us into the white school. Rule One: Ignore anything the white people say to you and keep walking. Rule Two: Always sit at the front of the classroom, near the door, so you can make a quick getaway if you need to. And Rule Three: Stay together whenever you possibly can.

“What if they spit on us?” one of the freshmen boys whispers. The ten of us are walking so tightly together down the narrow sidewalk we can’t help but hear each other now, but none of us makes any move to separate. “We’re supposed to stand there and take it?”

“You take it unless you want to get something worse after school lets out,” Chuck says.

There’s a glint in Chuck’s eye. I don’t think he’ll take anything he doesn’t want to take.

I wonder what he thinks is going to happen today. I wonder if he’s ready.

I thought I was. Now I’m not so sure.

We have one ARC of Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley to give to one lucky US reader. Giveaway ends at 11:59 PM EST on September 9, 2014. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to email before a new winner is selected. Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor. I also want to thank the author, Robin Talley, for the giveaway prize and the chance for us to post an exclusive excerpt.

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