Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Lie was the Cover

I'm so upset about the whole Liar controversy. The book Liar by Justine Larbalestier is about a multiracial teen so then tell me why the cover has a white girl is on the cover? This is in no way the author's fault. I've read/heard repeatedly that authors have little say in the final cover choice. See the author's response to all the controversy here. I'm not upset in any way with the author. I love her post. What upsets me is the publisher's response “The entire premise of this book is about a compulsive liar,” said Melanie Cecka, publishing director of Bloomsbury Children’s Books USA and Walker Books for Young Readers, who worked on Liar. “Of all the things you’re going to choose to believe of her, you’re going to choose to believe she was telling the truth about race?”

My response: Weak! I'm sorry, wait no I'm not. That excuse was lame. Why wouldn't you put an image similar to the way the main character describes herself on the cover of the book? I realize covers are important, I sometimes judge books by their covers, but most important is the actual summary of the book. I'm insulted that the publishing company (Bloomsbury) thought that a book with a black girl on it wouldn't sell as well as one with a white girl on it. Later on, Cecka talks about how "clearly, our striving for ambiguity with this cover, and for it to be interpreted as a ‘lie’ itself didn’t work for everyone. But again, if this jacket proves a catalyst for a bigger discussion about how the industry is dealing with its books on race, that’s a very large good to come of this current whirlwind.” I agree with the latter part of this. I hope all the discussion and outrage about this cover, result in a larger conversation about race and lack of books/reviews about YA people of color. I really hope my fellow teen book bloggers express their opinions about this issue, because I want to know what they think.

Other articles: Taste Life Twice wants to specifically know white reader's thoughts See the original post here
Color Online
Chasing Ray
I've never read any of Ms. Larbalestier's books, but all the discussion has made me curious and eager to read her books. So some good will come of this hopefully; a discussion about the lack of poc in YA books, and more people will read Ms. Larbalestier's books.
What do you think?


  1. Great post. I linked it on mine.


  2. Good post! I've got ya linked.

  3. Thanks for adding your opinion--by the end of yesterday, I was feeling pretty deflated. But let's wait and see if Bloomsbury practices what it preaches: if it really WANTS a conversation on race in YA lit, let's get it on! But I'm not holding my breath about their future covers...

  4. I was feeling pretty down too. I've calmed down a little but I very much intend on shooting off a polite, angry email telling Bloomsbury what I think. I want to read the book, but not with that cover. I'll take the Australian cover!

  5. MissA,

    We will get an Aussie edition. We, brown women will not give Bloomsbury one dollar. Not one. Glad you weighed in.

    I think you know how proud I am you weighed in. You and Tashi are why I remain hopeful in this upward battle of changing the racial dynamics.

    Thank you.

  6. I don't see why a person's race matters when it comes to the cover. What I mean by that is the cover should relate to the book not by what will sell more copies. I'm white and if I see a book that the back cover SOUNDS good then I will buy it, no matter what is on the front. When I look for a book, I see if the cover looks interesting or if the title seems interesting, I pick it up and read the back. What the race of the person on the front doesn't matter to me and to say that more people will by a book because a white person is on the front is crazy. I buy a book if the back of it sounds interesting. Whether the person of the front is white, black, or purple doesn't affect whether I will buy the book or not. I'm a teen and this is what I think.

  7. Excellent post! Thanks for you kind words, Ari, means a lot. I've added your blog to my reader.

    Justine Larbalestier

  8. lulugirl9 I totally agree! If a book looks/sounds interesting, I'll get it, if it doesn't, I won't. I really appreciate learning your opinion, especially as a white reader. It means a lot knowing that you would pick up a book with a black girl on the cover, it reaffirms what almost everyone (except the publishing comapnies and a few insignifacnt people) already know. Race doesn't matter on a cover, it will sell well if the book seems interesting.
    Justine everyone is on your side and this further proved to me that authors should have a say in their own covers! Can't wait to read the Australian version of Liar, as well as How To Ditch Your Fairy. Thanks for adding me :)

  9. Great post. The thing that bothers me most about this issue is the fact that it's like a slap in the face to teens, who deserve better.

  10. I think it is very disrepectful to readers to think that our minds work that way.

  11. It really is. Teens aren't stupid, we'll read what we want to read whether or not the person looks like us.
    I agree Ali! At least we are having this conversation, I'm sure things will change for the better!

  12. I agree with you. And of course books with blacks on the cover "won't sell" if publishers won't put blacks on the cover of any books that will sell!

  13. Exactly! Right on Elizabeth :)


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