Yeah, I couldn't find a bigger picture of it. Sorry! Now compare it with the original cover:
Isn't the new cover gorgeous? I really don't understand why Bloomsbury didn't just do the second cover first. While I admit that I like the lighting of the old cover, and think it would look very lovely on another book, the new one looks, on the one hand, much more professional. I mean, what was up with Number One's Photoshopped-floating-shadow translucent-title overlay? Hello?! Anyway, I digress.
Last year, I wrote a blog post about how I felt the new cover of Justine Larbalestier's Liar (changed, once again, after media outcry about its whitewashing) was...pretty, but had not gone far enough to correct the decades-old issue of whitewashing on covers. For reference, here is the cover of Liar again:
My issue with this image is that it's just too pretty, too unlike the author's descriptions of Micah in the book, too acquiescent to the majority (read: white) ideal of beauty. Because honestly? How many black girls look like this model? (How many girls of any other race, for that matter?) The supermodel-worthiness of the model, along with the "stillness" of the cover, left me dissatisfied and feeling that Bloomsbury had not done enough. No, far from it: they had simply gave themselves a lightly reprimanding slap on the wrists, and put the white majority's idealized version of black beauty on the cover.
This time, however, I think Bloomsbury's on a better track.
I'm still not completely satisfied, of course. There's still a "staticness" about these covers, a sluggishness, that conveys little movement for stories that are wide and sweeping and what have you. But I'm super happy they didn't put the teenage equivalent of Freida Pinto (Latika from Slumdog Millionaire) on the cover:
Or Aishwarya Rai (from Bride and Prejudice):
Because--do you see what I'm trying to depict here? There's no denying that Freida and Aishwarya are stunning. I don't care what race you are, or what your sexual orientation is, but there's almost no way you can NOT think either one of these ladies beautiful. Their beauty transcends almost impenetrable racial boundaries and appeals to the societal ideal of beauty.
That's why I'm much happier with the improved cover for Magic Under Glass than I was for that of Liar. On the cover of MUG is now a girl who could be my classmate, or my good friend back in high school. She's pretty too--but her beauty is so much more grounded in reality. I don't feel like a freaking ugly loser when I inevitably subconsciously compare myself to the cover of a book anymore. Like it or not, book covers do influence our impressions of a book, and now the good thing is that I can eagerly pick this book up in the store now and be allowed to think, I could be her. She could be me. I can be as brave and resourceful and beloved as she is.
And that, my friends, is an EXCELLENT thing for readers to think and feel.
So by all means, go out there and recommend this book like crazy. I bet there will be grateful girls out there, girls who are happy that finally, finally there's someone like them on the cover of a book: someone flawed, someone different, and someone amazing in their uniqueness and differences. This is one small step towards expanding society's standards of beauty, towards lowering teenage girls' insecurities over their appearances because they don't look like the only faces they see in prominent media positions. And that is a very beautiful thing.
So thank you, Bloomsbury, for this small gift. But you know what they say about the third time. Don't mess up again.
I leave you with the new MUG cover again. So you can bask in it, as I am.
Wheeeee look at me! I'm real and unique and therefore I am beautiful!!!