There is a saying that everyone has heard that goes, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” I am going to take a leaf out of Candace Flynn’s book (a teenage girl from the animated TV show Phineas and Ferb) and say, “That’s why books have covers; to judge them!” If you pick up a book and the cover is a picture of a couple holding hands, with pink, curly writing across their feet proclaiming Summer Love, you are going to assume that it is a romance novel. You can also safely assume that is isn’t about the zombie apocalypse.
So, yes, you can easily guess the main plot. Boy and girl fall in love, get separated by events: war, politics, accidents in time. Boy and girl yearn for each other until they are either reunited or they move on.
But will the book be good? Bad? Predictable? Full of intermixing plot twists?
You can never know the whole story, unless you read the book.
Just as it is impossible to imagine up a whole book based off the cover, it is impossible to know what is going on in a person’s head. And, just like we assume a book will be bad or good before we read it, sometimes we judge other people before knowing their whole story.
For example, I was working on a huge group project with people that I didn’t know very well. For the past few weeks, one girl that I was working with was being very irritating. She was constantly negative. She never did her share of the work, and then she would spin translucent lies to cover it up.
So, of course, I thought that she was lazy and annoying and a drag on the team.
But, a few days ago, I discovered that her grandmother - who she had been extremely close to - had died.
I realized that the assumptions that I had made were not safe. They were extremely dangerous, and had every potential to backfire. And they almost did! What was I doing when she needed support? I was judging her. I guessed the details of the story, before I even attempted to open the book.
When reading a book, the ending of any story is not usually what we would have predicted while opening to the first page.
For example, last year I read a book about a sane girl who gets put in a mental hospital. There, she meets another mis-diagnosed, sane, boy. They fall in love. When they are both released, they start dating.
You can see the last of the pages coming. It’s close. You look: about... thirty pages left? But you already know the end, right? They get married, happily ever ever, etc.
But, suddenly, the boy reveals that he is an alien. The girl helps him get back to his home planet and they never see each other again.
Not what I was expecting. Probably not what you guessed, either.
There are always motivations behind another person’s actions, but we can’t see them all the time, just like an unexpected plot twist.
Judging books by their covers is fine and harmless, but don’t judge a person by their actions. You don’t know the full story, so please don’t write a review. Judging people is best left to God, who knows the whole account.
Don’t judge a person by their cover. Let them write the story. It’s their tale to spin. And get busy, because you have your own work to do; your story.
Make it a good one.