Ask The Author

Salt to the Sea

Ruta Sepetys

Did you enjoy History while you were at school?
Sophie, 13

Hi Sophie,
Yes! It was always one of my favorite subjects. I still love reading books and watching films and TV shows about history.

Hi Robin, I was wondering when I was reading LWTO, what inspired you to write about a significant event in American History and make it seem as if it was a happy time rather than a sad time? I loved the book i am inspired by you thanks for writing it!
Rhianna, 12

Hi Rhianna,
Thank you! I'm so glad you liked the book. I was inspired to write about school desegregation by my parents, who were both in high school in Virginia when their schools were integrated for the first time -- I grew up hearing stories from them about it. And I think that era, like all historical eras, had a mix of happy and sad moments. Much of the history of the long struggle for equality, which is still ongoing today, is desperately sad, but the many victories along the way have been very worthy of celebration. 

What inspired you to write a book about integration and why did you decide that the two main characters Linda and Sarah should be lesbians?
Cleotha, 12

Hi Cleotha,
I first got the idea to write about school integration from my parents, who lived through that era themselves. And before I even started writing, I knew that the main character would be queer (although I think both Sarah and Linda would probably identify as bisexual rather than as lesbians, if they were familiar with those terms as we use them today). My idea for the story was always to focus on a girl who was facing one very public civil rights battle -- the battle for school integration -- while also dealing with a very private struggle, which queer sexuality had to be in the 1950s.

Who do you think is the bravest character in 'Lies We Tell Ourselves'?
Shadowing Group (12441) Elemeno!

Hi Elemeno Shadowing Group!
I think it's Ruth. :) But I'd be interested to know who you think it is!

Have you ever encountered some of the experiences the characters in you book have? Shivani, 12

Hi Shivani,
I've never experience anything like the discrimination the black characters face in LIES WE TELL OURSELVES, and I have the greatest admiration for those who lived through this era and put their own lives on the line and who changed the world for the generations that came after them. But I did struggle when I was first coming to understand my sexual orientation as a teen, though my experiences were still very different than what Sarah and Linda go through on that front, since I was a teen of the 1990s rather than the 1950s.

What inspired you to write a book about this particular subject and the feelings that the girls were feeling?
Sophie, 13

Hi Sophie,
I was inspired to write about integration by my parents, who lived through the integration of their high schools in the 1960s. As for the characters' feelings through the experience, I did a lot of research and read a lot of memoirs and testimonies from people who lived through integration, and that informed a lot of how I described what the experience was like for them.