Would you stand up for what’s right? Check out the cover for The Assignment and an interview with author Liza Wiemer.
Liza Wiemer (author of Hello?) returns to young adult fiction with The Assignment, a timely novel about standing up to injustice and anti-Semitism, even when it comes from people you respect.
Based on a real-life incident, The Assignment evokes classics like The Wave, to explore the building impact of discrimination in everyday life — and how to call for justice when no one seems to be listening.
‘The Assignment’ by Liza Wiemer cover reveal
About ‘The Assignment’
Senior Year. When an assignment given by a favorite teacher instructs a group of students to argue for the Final Solution, a euphemism used to describe the Nazi plan for the genocide of the Jewish people, Logan March and Cade Crawford are horrified. Their teacher cannot seriously expect anyone to complete an assignment that fuels intolerance and discrimination. Logan and Cade decide they must take a stand.
As the school administration addressed the teens’ refusal to participate in the appalling debate, the student body, their parents, and the larger community are forced to face the issue as well. The situation explodes, and acrimony and anger result. What does it take for intolerance, justice, and love to prevail?
Liza Wiemer talks writing and discovering ‘The Assignment’
What is your favorite element of the cover?
First, I’d like to give a shout-out to my talented cover designer, Angela Carlino, who has done a lot of covers I admire, including Dear Martin. I can’t talk about my favorite element of my cover without explaining that the classroom setting reflects a powerful and challenging scene in the novel. It’s a scenario we’ve seen in and outside of schools around this country, including my home state, Wisconsin.
My favorite element is the focus on the two center figures — one standing, one sitting — showing how difficult it is to go against the crowd and to speak out. These two epitomize courage. I hope it will pique readers’ interest as they reflect on the important tag line: “Would YOU stand up for what is right?”
What was the most challenging part of writing The Assignment?
The beginning. Before it even reached my editor, Beverly Horowitz, I must have rewritten or tweaked it no less than one hundred times. I couldn’t get it right. With Beverly’s guidance, the beginning became something I’m really proud of.
It didn’t come easily, however. The issue was that I was focusing on the relationship between my main characters instead of the assignment. That wasn’t the right place to start. I turned in at least four different versions to Beverly, and even though there were many elements that I loved about those beginnings, they didn’t have the same impact as the one that’s in the novel.
What did you learn from writing this book?
Sadly, the antisemitic assignment that inspired this novel is not an isolated incident. I read about racist and antisemitic school activities across the globe. In each situation, the majority stayed silent. Silence by the masses is one of the reasons why the Nazis were able to implement the Final Solution — their plan to exterminate Europe’s 11,000,000 Jews.
After doing extensive research, I find that I have more questions than answers. How was it that millions of people were at the very least complacent and at the very worst perpetrators of hate? What happened to their morals? How is it that people will defend the indefensible, justify or participate in cold-blooded murder? This is incomprehensible to me. Yet, here we are in a world where antisemitism and hate crimes against people of color, the LGBTQIAP+ community, and other marginalized groups continue to rise.
What do you hope readers take away from The Assignment?
An assignment like this can be given anywhere. Any country. Any town. Any school. Even yours.
It’s my hope that if readers find themselves in a situation where they face any kind of injustice that they’ll find the courage to stand up, speak out. It’s never easy, especially when young adults have to confront people who are supposed to be role models. Hold tightly to your moral compass. Don’t blindly accept that an immoral assignment is okay just because a teacher gives it. My main characters, Cade and Logan, exemplify many young adults today who stand against intolerance and racism. May their courage and actions be an inspiration for you.