Surprisingly this year, the Carnegie shortlist has no less than three books with the word ‘lie’ in the title! They are all about both the untruths we tell about ourselves in order to feel better about the way we are acting and about unpicking the lies/morally dubious beliefs of those around us, including those in Authority.
I have already reviewed The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge, so will look at the other two Shortlisted books ‘There will be Lies… and then there will be the Truth’ by Nick Lake and The Lies we Tell Ourselves’ by Robin Talley.
‘There Will Be Lies’ was not at all what I was expecting. It started as a suspenseful thriller, set in modern America about a girl called Shelby who lives with her mother. It is quickly very obvious that all is not what it seems as her mother home schools her and is adamant that although she is 17 she cannot go out alone or talk to anyone (especially any males).
Then Shelby is in a car accident and she sees a Coyote, who speaks to her in her mind and tells her that ‘There will be two lies, then there will be the truth. And that will be hardest of all.’ The plot then has two angles, ‘normal life’ and a ‘Native American style quest/fairy tale’ that Shelby must complete to find peace.
I really enjoyed the book and the way that reality was interwoven with the ‘Quest’ – which may have been ‘magic’ or a fantasy played out in Shelby’s mind, it is unclear.
Lies We Tell Ourselves is very different, it is also set in America, (Virginia) in 1959 at a time when ‘Coloured’ people (this is what Sarah, a black girl calls herself) are faced with appalling discrimination. Sarah is also 17 and she is about to be ‘integrated’ with a group of other friends into an all-white High School. I must confess that I didn’t realise exactly how linear the segregation was at this time in the USA.
The book is based on true accounts and details how the black kids were spat at, bullied, called names and had to act in a deferential way towards their white peers. In addition to this, girls and women are treated as second class citizens by the men in their lives.
Sarah is forced to work with Linda, daughter of the town’s most ardent segregationist. Gradually Sarah realises that she is attracted to Linda and is terrified of the way that she feels.
Personally, I found this book illuminating, I felt extremely angry at the way various characters in the book were treated and glad that we are now less defined by our gender, race and sexuality. This book made me think hard about the lies we tell ourselves to justify our prejudices and the lies that we are told by others to maintain the status quo.
I would recommend both of these books, ‘There will be Lies’ was exciting and fast-paced, ‘Lies we Tell Ourselves’ was thought-provoking and really made me think. I’d love to know which you prefer?