Liar (novel)

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Liar covers.jpg
Author Justine Larbalestier
Country Australia
Language English
Genre Teen Fiction
Publisher Allen & Unwin (Australia)
Bloomsbury Press (US)
Publication date

Liar is a 2009 young adult thriller novel by Justine Larbalestier. It is written in first person from the point of view of a character named Micah Wilkins, who is a deliberate unreliable narrator (made clear as such on the first page of the book).[1]


The protagonist of the novel, Micah Wilkins, is a seventeen-year-old biracial girl living in New York with her parents. When the novel opens, Micah's boyfriend Zachary, who's been missing, is found dead. The story is told in segments of past and present, moving between Micah's family history and how she met her boyfriend, and with the present as the investigation into Zach's death unfolds.

The concept of the story is that Micah is a compulsive liar. The novel is written as though Micah is writing the words, so she is aware of and refers to the audience in the text, to whom she is telling the story. In the opening she promises to tell the whole truth, but as the story continues she retracts or "corrects" statements she'd said before, claiming the new truth to be the real one.



Cover art controversy[edit]

Liar became the focus of Internet-centered controversy due to its cover, in its initial U.S. print run, featuring a young white woman with long, straight hair, while the book describes its protagonist as an African American girl with "nappy" hair. Larbalestier herself was among those critical of this, saying "the problem is longstanding and industry-wide. Whitewashing of covers, ghettoizing of books by people of color, and low expectations (reflected in the lack of marketing push behind the majority of these books) are not new things".[2][3]


  1. ^ Halverson, Deborah (2011-07-05). "The unreliable narrator". Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies. For Dummies. ISBN 0-470-94954-6. There are several ways to let readers know your narrator has credibility issues. You can tell them up front that the narrator is a liar, as Justine Larbalestier does on page 1 of Liar [...] 
  2. ^ Cart, Michael (2010-09-06). Young Adult Literature: From Romance to Realism. American Library Association. p. 126. ISBN 0-8389-1045-9. 
  3. ^ Flood, Alison (2009-08-10). "Bloomsbury backs down over book cover race row". Retrieved 2011-07-12. 

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