Saturday, January 12, 2013

By Its Cover: My Name Is Not Easy

And we're back for a second edition of By Its Cover, with yesterday's review book: My Name Is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson.

First Impressions
It seems fairly obvious to me that this book is not going to be incredibly uplifting, given the gray tones, the sad-looking facial expression on the boy writing on the mirror, and the feeling you get from seeing someone write anything not expressly cheery on a fogged-up mirror.

Called it... this is not a bright and cheery story. It's about the struggles of Native American and Eskimo children adapting to living at a Catholic boarding school in the 1960s. Absolutely not a delightful romp.
From reading the summary, it sounded to me like the boy on the cover was our protagonist, and we would hear everything from his point of view, but as I mentioned yesterday, the point of view and narrator is all over the place. If there is a single protagonist to be identified, you could easily argue that it is Luke, particularly since the title is clearly coming from him (he's the one who changes his name to make it easier for white people to pronounce) and he's likely the kid portrayed on the cover.

Final Word
I wouldn't call the cover misleading, but I think it would make more sense to portray all the key children, or none of them. It does convey the general tone of the book very well, though.

So I'm going to give you a little aside.  I read the eBook version of it, not a hard copy.  And while I did know what the cover looked like, I didn't really think about it.  Covers have a certain effect on us.  I'm sure everyone has heard the phrase "Don't judge a book by its cover" and while that's true in applications to humans, it's a little different when we're talking books.  The fact is, we DO make judgements based on covers.  A shiny, interesting cover will jump out at us more.  Granted, usually we pick it up and read the summary to see if we would enjoy it, but I'm sure more than one of you out there has read a book solely because of its cover (I know I have.)

By having eBooks, we tend not to have this visceral response to covers and tend to pick a book based solely on the story.  But that isn't necessarily always a good thing.  The cover helps us make connections, it helps us describe a book when we can't remember the name.  We also look at the cover frequently, trying to figure out when the scenes on the cover happens or what it means or what it has to do with the story at all.  The cover gives us clues to what might happen in the book, or why that particular part is important.  By not having a cover to constantly refer to, it actually may hurt more than it helps.

So while eBooks are good, they rob you of a specific connection with your book.

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