Before I read a book, I look at its cover. Despite what people say, you can tell a lot about a book based simply on what it looks like on the outside. Although you cannot judge a story by its cover, the outward appearance can draw you in and make you want to read the words inside. I love talking about covers maybe as much as I love talking about the novels themselves, so I started a feature to spotlight these essential works of art.
Skyscraping by Cordelia Jensen
Release: June 2, 2015 from Philomel
A heartrending, bold novel in verse about family, identity, and forgivenessSkycraping's blurb is punctuated with emotional adjectives: heartrending, bold, raw, exposed. While these words are meant to describe the story inside the book, they do not only describe word choice and plotlines. They also perfectly describe the book's cover.
Mira is just beginning her senior year of high school when she discovers her father with his male lover. Her world–and everything she thought she knew about her family–is shattered instantly. Unable to comprehend the lies, betrayal, and secrets that–unbeknownst to Mira–have come to define and keep intact her family’s existence, Mira distances herself from her sister and closest friends as a means of coping. But her father’s sexual orientation isn’t all he's kept hidden. A shocking health scare brings to light his battle with HIV. As Mira struggles to make sense of the many fractures in her family's fabric and redefine her wavering sense of self, she must find a way to reconnect with her dad–while there is still time. Told in raw, exposed free verse, Skyscraping reminds us that there is no one way to be a family.
When looking at this cover, my eyes immediately travel to the bold background, a vast cityscape that seems to pulse with both energy and loneliness. Some view large cities as impersonal and overwhelming places to get lost, while others view them as exciting and invigorating hubs of culture and ambition. The cover designer beautifully blended both interpretations, creating a symbol that makes viewers feel heavy with the weight of the world as well as bubbly with optimism.
As soon as viewers notice the girl soaring over the city, the cover becomes heartrending. Clinging to the metal chains of a swing hundreds of feet off the ground, she appears innocent and vulnerable. She is still young, a child on playground equipment, and yet she must swing thousands of feet over a tumultuous city and the real-life struggles it represents. And at any minute she will fall.
When these two cover components collide, they result in a raw, exposed image that doubtlessly reflects the story inside. I cannot wait to meet this girl as she swings, crashes, and recovers her way through life.