August 31, 2017

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 5:04 pm by suebe2

One of Us Is Lying
by Karen M. McManus
Delacorte Press

As the story opens, five students are serving detention. They are a varied group with one thing in common – they are all in detention because a tech-hating teacher found a cell phone in each of their packs.  He has a no phones in class rule and all of them observe it but each was caught with a cheap phone that didn’t belong to them. Who could have set them up and why bother?

Bronwyn is the school brain.  She’s heading straight for an early acceptance from Yale.

Cooper is a jock with an amazing fast ball. He’s already being scouted by a variety of schools.

Addy dates the school quarterback. She’s sweet and pretty enough to be on the homecoming court.

Nate is the outlier.  A known drug dealer, he doesn’t care what anyone thinks.  He’s focused on convincing his probation officer that he’s doing everything right.

This question seems all important at the beginning of detention but it is quickly driven from one of their minds.  Simon, the outcast of the group, begins to cough.  Soon he is on the ground, red-faced and choking.  Nate realizes Simon is having a severe allergic reaction to something but can’t find the other boy’s epipen.  Cooper, star pitcher on the school baseball team, sprints to the nurses office but the epipens she keeps there are gone.

Now the police are looking at this group and trying to figure out who wanted Simon dead.  The problem is that Simon had only one friend in school.  So it could have been just about anyone.  Simon ran a gossip ap that he used to “out” whoever did anything they wouldn’t want someone else to know about.  Cheating on a boyfriend, casual sex, drunken anarchy.  All could be punished by a post by Simon.

These four students are the prime suspects simply because they were in the room.  The mystery deepens as the posts continue even after Simon’s death.  A post goes lives that implicates everyone who had been in detention.  In spite of the fact that their lawyers have advised them to avoid each other, the four start working together to figure out who really did it and why.

If you’re over a certain age, this will immediately remind you of The Breakfast Club but it’s the BC with a serious edge.  One of the students doesn’t make it out alive.

Because the author switches points of view, allowing each character to speak for him or herself, the reader gets the experience of seeing things from each character’s perspective.  This is an engaging technique that helps the reader identify with the characters.  Not that they need a lot of help.  With this array of characters, there is a great variety.  But this does make it easy to get into their heads.

Readers will find themselves debating, who did it?  Is one of them lying?

Warning.  Here comes a big spoiler alert.

Seriously.  Don’t read on because I may give something away.

In some ways this book is a lot like 13 Reasons Why.  So now you know.  It deals with suicide and mental illness. Because of this, it can be a tough read as the characters figure out what happened and why.  They are to blame but not in the “they drove poor Simon to suicide” way.  “It is a lot more like Simon was a bit unhinged but didn’t use a gun.”

But I think it is a really important read.  It shows how one persons actions impact another.  But it also shows how students can cross boundaries and reach out to help each other.  There is definitely a lot to love about this book.  That said, it is definitely a read for teens, not tweens.

–SueBE

 

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