BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Liar by Justine Larbalestier

LiarMicah is a boy. Micah is a girl. Micah is 17, a senior in a progressive New York City private school.

Micah’s father went to Marseille in search of his unknown black French father and came back with a white French wife. Micah’s father is an arms dealer who rides around in a limousine. Micah’s French mother (whose French accent as voiced by narrator Channie Waites is painfully embarrassing, marring an otherwise fine aural rendition) is a French teacher. Micah has a younger brother, age 10, who she thinks “should never have been born.”

Micah can run 10 miles an hour. Micah is on the pill to keep her from “instant anemia once a month,” with the added benefit of keeping her skin acne-free.

Micah was Zach’s girlfriend. Sarah was Zach’s girlfriend. Zach is dead.

Micah is the titular liar. Micah has cried ‘wolf’ one too many times. Unreliable narrator that she is, to believe or not to believe will be the question you’ll be asking, all the way to book’s end.

What begins as a typical high school drama about young love in the big city gets hijacked by a shocking middle interlude and morphs into a mythic quest to find Zach’s killer. And Micah, our proverbial liar, is the only what who can tell us what she may or may not have seen or done … will be we ever be able to trust her?! Her truth runs amok, as we breathlessly try to keep up.

I discovered the Australian author Justine Larbalestier‘s international bestseller when the U.S. edition hit shelves with quite the misinterpreted (‘nice’ reaction), white-washed (truthful observation) cover (click here to compare versions for yourself). Dismissing Larbalestier’s objections about her own book (!), the American Liar initially hit shelves as a straight-haired, pale teenager, never mind the book describes Micah as a black girl with short “nappy hair.” How ironic that Larbalestier’s publishers felt they had to create a lie of their own. Public outrage finally won out. Larbalestier’s own comments and reactions can be found here.

Oh, and you wanna talk power couple? Larbalestier’s hubby is none other than YA superstar Scott Westerfield – yup, he of the massively successful Uglies trilogy-plus-one. Proof positive that a family that writes bestsellers together must have some inspiring dinner conversations. Wonder how we might wrangle an invite to their meal table …?!

Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult

Published: 2009 (United States)


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