Donated Book – Now available at Samuels Public Library

Front Royal Women's Resource Center and Royal Oak Bookshop co-sponsor donations to Samuels Public Library that are by or about women. Nan Hathaway, Book Donation Sponsor & Coordinator, chooses our books each year. Thank you Nan!

We highlight one of these books every third week each month. Our 2020 Book Reviews and Commentaries are provided by JoEllen McNeal. Thank you JoEllen!

I’m Telling the Truth but I’m Lying: Essays

By Bassey Ikpi


I need to prove to you that I didn’t enter the world broken.  I need to prove that I existed before.  That I was created by people who loved me and had experiences that turned me into these fragmented sentences, but that I was, at one point, whole.  That I didn’t just show up as a life already destroyed.”


Throughout her early childhood in Nigeria and adolescence in Oklahoma, Bassey Ikpi lived with an overload of emotions, cycling between extreme euphoria and deep depression - sometimes within the course of a single day.  In her early twenties, Bassey became a spoken word artist and traveled with HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, channeling her experiences into art.  But beneath the façade of confident performer, the symptoms from her childhood were building and Bassey’s mental health was in a precipitous decline, culminating in hospitalization and a diagnosis of bipolar II.

In, I’m Telling the Truth, but I’m Lying, Bassey Ikpi breaks open our understanding of mental health by giving us intimate access to her own.  Exploring shame, confusion, medication, and family in the process.  Bassey looks at how mental health impacts every aspect of our lives – how we appear to others, and, most important, to ourselves – and challenges our preconceptions about what it means to be “normal.” Viscerally raw and honest, the result is an exploration of the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of who we are – and the ways, as honest as we try to be, each of these stories is also a lie.

“Bassey Ikpi’s articulates the weightlessness and bodylessness of vulnerability and neuroses and depression with the ease of a fog sifting through the sky.  I’m Telling the Truth, but I’m Lying will shatter you, sure.  Probably.  Definitely. But Bassey is so gifted, so real, so magic that you won’t even bother asking for glue.” – Damon Young, author of What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker.

Bassey Ikpi is a Nigerian American writer, ex-poet, constant mental health advocate, underachieving overachiever, and memoir procrastinator.  She lives in Maryland with her soccer superstar son.

2020 July Book Commentary