Really -- don't judge "Liar" by its cover
Well, the protagonist of the book is a compulsive liar named Micah, who's working on her honesty issues. She's also black. However, the cover art depicts an unambiguously white girl, and because of the underlying themes of honesty in the book, now fans are questioning the most basic facts of the book, like "hey, is Micah even lying about her race?"
Understandably, Larbalestier is upset that the novel she worked so hard on is unraveling thanks to a book cover that she had absolutely no creative control over. And in a world where the Gates scandal is picking up steam instead of fading away, there are many reasons to have this conversation.
First, there's the question of whether or not authors should have a say in how their work is presented to the world. I firmly believe that they should at least be at the table when this decision is made, and not just to veto the truly egregious covers. This is their life's work, their creation, and I'm still shocked whenever I hear that the writer is given only cursory knowledge of what message their book will convey to the reader at first glance.
The fact that many also get no say in the title of their books confuses me to no end.
Secondly, there's the matter of "whitewashing" book covers. Whether it's a case of ignorance or malice, this is also unacceptable. As a commenter notes, her students have never said they wouldn't read a book because of the cover model's race -- the boys are more concerned about flowers, hearts and pastels.
So what is the purpose of changing a character's race on the cover, confusing anyone who actually picks the book up? Are white characters really that much more palateable to the average reader? Or is this just an out-of-touch marketing strategy? (Because there's no doubt it's racist.)
We should encourage everyone to read more. That means presenting books honestly, and giving minorities relateable characters, as well -- and not just in the "urban fiction" section.
Have you authors out there had similar experiences while publishing your books? Or have you been a slightly confused reader whose book cover misportrayed the characters you went on to read about?