Liar, Liar

If you haven’t heard what’s happened yet, let me inform you.  Liar is a YA novel written by Justine Larbalesteir is about a young woman who is a pathological liar, she also happens to be black.  When the US cover was released, people were shocked and angry – why?  Because, the girl on the cover is white:

liar-usThe Australian cover is in the back and the US cover is in the front.  What does this say about the publishing industry?  That they are making inexcusable decisions about what will sell and what won’t; they are making inexcusable excuses that try to justify racism.

When I first read about the controversy, I was so incredibly angered that I had nothing to say.  Nothing but spewing angry comments that would have done nothing to further the discussion.  I have calmed down, though I have lost none of my anger at the situation.

When I brought up the Liar controversy at lunch with some girlfriends the other day, my friend who is a journalism major, described what it was like working for an agency that dealt with models and advertising.  She said the overt racism in relation to what would sell and what would not was disgusting.  It is not just books, but clothing ads and television commercials for anything and everything.  Then it extends to issues of gender as well.  What needs to change?  Do our buying habits need to change before the industry will?  Or does the industry need to take an initiative?  I feel like I am banging my head against the wall, because I don’t know the answer to that question.  In an ideal world, the industry would take the initiative to change the way we buy.  But I know that that too is naive: money is first.  Always.

I do know that what I can do is write an email, expressing my anger and frustration, not only with the original decision to make the girl on the cover white, but also with their excuse.  A sorry excuse that is, probably, an outright lie:

“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?”

I just don’t believe it.  Maybe it’s true, but if it is (and I doubt it is) then they made a huge mistake.  I have never read one of Larbalesteir’s books, and I would love to in the future.  This clearly is not a reflection on her, in any way.  But if you want to say something about this, send the publisher an email.  Let them know that we are paying attention, and it’s not right anymore.

More opinions: Chasing Ray, Color Online, A Chair, A Fireplace, A Tea Cozy

Join Color Online in reading more diverse books for the month of August, I know I am!

9 thoughts on “Liar, Liar

  1. I do think the cover should reflect the content, but I’m sure this isn’t the first time this has happened. One the other hand, some would also argue that it’s racist for the pathological liar to be black.

    1. It’s certainly not the first time this has happened. Now, fortunately, a lot of people have noticed. Maybe it will change things, maybe it won’t, but we’re aware, and that’s important.

  2. I want to write a comment, but I feel like it would be misinterpreted. I think you know how these things go with me. . . ;P

    I am glad you’re helping to bring this into light, though. It is something that should be noticed. You’re amazing, Werebumblebee. Every time I write Werebumblebee, which happens a lot, I lol because I have a picture of you in my head as a bee, fighting crime. Thanks for making me laughoutloudly because I was hurtin bad today, hurtin real bad.

  3. Christina, please don’t think Justine Larbalestier (the author) was being racist by making her protagonist (a liar) biracial. Justine has written several books and always has minority characters (the main character in her Magic and Madness trilogy was half Aborigine).

  4. That’s the reason they provided??? I’ve heard so much about this but I feel like I haven’t been getting the full story from all the bits and pieces I’ve heard. They’re trying to hint that perhaps the character is lying about her race???

  5. You’ve raised several valid points here. I’d like to add that it’s not a very good cover anyway, compared to the original. There are far to many YA books with cheap photographs on the cover thesedays.

  6. I have to express my appreciation for your kind-heartedness for all those that should have help with this one study. Your very own dedication to passing the message throughout had become pretty functional and has constantly made most people just like me to get to their targets. Your entire warm and helpful guidelines means much to me and especially to my peers. Thank you; from everyone of us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s