A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Karen M. McManus' One of Us Is Lying is a murder mystery set in a high school. Four teens are suspects in the death of a classmate. They were in detention with the boy when he died, but no one saw anyone do anything to him. The mystery has many twists and turns, plus romance, social drama, and bullying of all types (verbal, physical, and online). Teen make-out sessions are described in detail. Kids drink and get offered drugs at parties, spread rumors, and gossip about one another, and occasionally swear, including "s--t," f--k," and "a--hole." Much of the plot involves kids keeping big secrets from friends and family, which provides good discussion topics. The online bullying in the book raises lots of ethical questions and will give readers much to discuss.
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What's the story?
ONE OF US IS LYING opens with four students heading into detention, all thinking they don't deserve to be there. Before long, a fifth student -- Simon, who runs a popular gossip app called About That -- is dead in the classroom, and the four students are murder suspects. Not only were Bronwyn, Nate, Addy, and Cooper the only people in the room with Simon when he died, but they also all have devastating secrets Simon was close to publishing. As the story unfolds, it's possible the students have been framed, but they keep unraveling more of one another's secrets, leaving them all confused as to whom they can trust. They also learn Simon had plenty of enemies on campus, as he had wrecked many lives by posting students' darkest secrets and misdeeds. Romance, bullying, cliques, secret lives, cheating, and family issues entangle the four main characters as they try to figure out which of them did it or who would want to set them up for a murder conviction.
Is it any good?
This fun, engrossing murder mystery will keep readers guessing until the end. If The Breakfast Club and Gossip Girl had a baby who was raised by Agatha Christie, the result would be One of Us Is Lying. Author Karen M. McManus starts with character clichés -- the smart overachiever, the pretty and popular airhead, the good ol' boy jock, and the handsome but possibly dangerous drug dealer -- but moves past that to show most people are more than what they seem, for good and for bad. Overall, the book is a page-turner of a whodunnit.
The story is told in alternating first person by the four main characters. This approach allows the reader to see how each character views the others and gives insight into what the character is hiding. The downside is that the character voices are too similar early on in the book, making switching between them confusing at times. Even though most of the book is fun, fast reading, the action bogs down in the middle and the romance storylines get tedious. The character arcs are very good, and the story picks up after the halfway point, with lots of great twists and turns.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the portrayal of high school in One of Us Is Lying. Do you think the social scheming, cliques, and gossip in real high schools are as bad as what's shown in the book? Why do you think books, movies, and TV shows play up this part of high school?
Would you read a blog or use an app that exposed people's deepest secrets? Do you feel talking about a person's private life in an online forum is OK?
Do you ever judge people based on appearances or gossip you've heard about them? Has there been a time when you got to know someone and found out he or she was different from what you first thought?
How honest are you with your family about important things going on in your life? Where do you think the line is between regular privacy and keeping secrets?
- Author: Karen M. McManus
- Genre: Mystery
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, High School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Delacorte Press
- Publication date: May 30, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 368
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: October 28, 2020
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