‘Lies We Tell Ourselves’ by Robin Talley

368p

2014

Harlequin

Recieved as a gift

51u5jvvsuol-_sx316_bo1204203200_In 1959 Virginia, Sarah and nine other of the best students from the local black high school, Johns, have waited years to attend the white school Jefferson High. Sarah is entering her last year of high school and is hopeful about her future. But when the black students walk in on their first day under a barrage of verbal and physical abuse, it is clear that she and the others are not welcome. The ten black teens will just have to get their heads down and tough it out.

Linda is the privileged white daughter of a well-respected segregationist. She doesn’t like all the disruption in her last year of school, and just wishes that the black people would stop pushing for something that it’s obvious none of the white townspeople want. When she is set a school project-with one of the black girls- she is disgusted that she even has to work with a black person, and the feeling is mutual.

When Sarah and Linda reluctantly spend time together working on the project, they start to get to know each other, and each begins to feel something that she doesn’t want to ever acknowledge. Amidst all the unrest, anger and hardship, the two girls try desperately to hide who they are.

How can they hide their true feelings and navigate a dangerous, racist world without something eventually slipping?

I’d heard about this book so many times, but never actually read it until my brother bought it as a gift for my birthday. And wow is it amazing!

This is a beautifully written story by Robin Talley about the civil rights movement, but also about sexuality, which was not a topic generally discussed in 1959 Virginia. The story was mainly narrated by Sarah, switching at times to Linda and then at the end Sarah’s younger sister Ruth. The plot was well-directed, constantly moving ahead in the story.

While this story is fiction and there is no town called Davisburg in Virginia, I really felt as if it was true, and I made such a connection with the characters. This book made me think for a long while after reading the last page about the struggles of the people who fought for integration, and I respect the courage and the work they did. It’s an inspiring, thought-provoking book, and one that I think everyone should read.

‘The Sun Is Also a Star’ by Nicola Yoon

348p

2016

Penguin Random House

Recieved as a gift

61vhe0u9ppl-_sx329_bo1204203200_When 17 year old Natasha and Daniel have a chance encounter on the streets of New York City, it was as if Fate brought them together.

Natasha is a smart, practical person, with a clear future, and is going to achieve what she sets out to do. Apart from one kink in her plans, the fact that her family may be deported back to Jamaica the next day. Her family are illegal immigrants, and by a mistake of her father’s, their whole life is now up in the air. She’s desperately trying to get the deportation cancelled, while the rest of her family have already accepted it.

Daniel is at heart a romantic dreamer, and with an uncertain future ahead of him, he’s struggling to follow what he truly wants to do in life. His strict Korean parents want him to study medicine, but all Daniel loves to do is write poetry.

When these two meet, one is convinced it’s by chance, another convinced that it is Fate. For a whole day, they get to know one another, each gradually revealing their secrets.

In a whirlwind of mixed emotions, attraction and dealing with the difficulties in each of their lives, this is a love story that couldn’t possibly have a fairytale ending. Does Fate have something else in store?

After loving Nicola Yoon’s debut novel, Everything, Everything, I was desperate to get my hands on The Sun Is Also A Star ever since I heard it was coming out. And trust me, it didn’t disappoint! Natasha and Daniel have such a stunning whirlwind romance, you truly get swept away in the beauty that is this book.

The characters are so interesting, they and their struggles are wonderfully portrayed, and you feel a connection with them and their stories. Nicola Yoon has such an effortless quality about her writing, the world around you completely melts away as you get sucked into the story. The plot was intriguing, and I liked how both Natasha and Daniel dealt with their familial difficulties throughout the day. The continuing discussion of Fate, that Daniel so very much wanted to believe in, was also interesting and a great sub-storyline running throughout.

The book is narrated alternately by Natasha and Daniel, but also with the points of view from some of the other characters that are in the story, Natasha’s father being one, and with little ‘History’s’ of things that crop up in the story.

I thought this was such an amazing story, it left me with a smile on my face and a warm feeling in my heart.