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December 15, 2012

Teenhood Today: You have to get past the book cover

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The Daily Star

---- — You can’t judge a book by its cover, but we do anyway. One of the flaws of humanity is our tendency to be judgmental. I’m sure most of us would pick a book with a colorful cover over one that has nothing more than the title and author’s name. I would. 

It actually doesn’t even need to be colorful, but it does have to be relevant. Relevance is pretty important. If the fiction novel I am writing were to be published and on the cover was a picture of a polka-dotted elephant juggling on the hood of a sports car, I would be pretty upset. I’m not a huge fan of sports cars. 

In my mind, people are a lot like books. Everyone has a cover: who they appear to be. Some people pick up a book, judge the cover, and then put it down. They never even look inside and learn the story behind the cover. They simply judge what they see. For books, that means that some will never be opened even though it may be the best thing ever written. It means the same for people, too.

Beyond the cover, all books are different. Some are dramatic; some are comedic; some are suspenseful. There’s mystery, romance, fantasy, sci-fi… You get the point. It’s the same with people. Some are more dramatic than others, some seem to live in their own world, and everyone has their own sense of humor, so everyone is their own kind of comedy. No two people are alike, neither are books. Do you get where I’m going with this? 

 Most people have a favorite book that’s worn and yellowing. Whether it’s a novel, the family Bible, or the cookbook with that special recipe of Double Chocolate Supremely Delicious Chocolate-Coated Strawberry-flavored Chocolate-filled Raspberries. And we all have that one person we can tell anything too. That person who is worn and yellowing from all of our troubles, but is still always there to listen. So in my mind, people are a lot like books. 

In English class, we have to pick a book to read, and then do a project with it. I usually choose some sort of historical fiction or a fantasy novel. Those are things that I’m interested in. In the same way, we surround ourselves with people who interest us and who share common interests. Again, people are a lot like books. 

With all of that said, you can’t judge a book by its cover. But again, we all do. I feel very strongly about judging people. Frankly, we don’t know their story. We don’t know why they’re the way they are. We only know they are. And that’s not enough to make a good opinion from. I mean, if you had gone through the same things they went through, wouldn’t you act like them? Wouldn’t you say the things they say? 

This doesn’t mean you have to like them, it only means that you can’t judge them. It means you have to respect them for who they are. Walk in their shoes for a little bit. It’s old, but good, advice. How would you like it if they judged you?     

Miriam A. Thurber is a sophomore at Unatego Central School. ‘Teen Talk’ columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/teentalk.