On My Bookshelf: One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

March 12, 2018

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus, the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive, is accurately described as “Pretty Little Liars meets The Breakfast Club.” The four survivors of detention narrate the book and each has something to hide, a secret only the outcast knew, which means each of them has a possible motive for murder. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: Pay close attention and you might solve this. On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus, the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive, is accurately described as “Pretty Little Liars meets The Breakfast Club.” The four survivors of detention narrate the book and each has something to hide, a secret only the outcast knew, which means each of them has a possible motive for murder. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
Why I liked it: One of Us is Lying, the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive, is accurately described as “Pretty Little Liars meets The Breakfast Club.” The four survivors of detention: the brain, the beauty, the criminal, and the jock narrate the book and each has something to hide, a secret only the outcast knew, which means each of them has a possible motive for his murder.

The book is suspenseful, with the kinds of twists and turns that make you want to pick it up and not put it down until it is finished. While focused on the mysterious death, the novel also touches on depression, abusive relationships, trying to fit in, and all the other pressures of being a high school student.

Classroom application: One of Us Is Lying is the perfect read for high school students who loved books like The Westing Game when they were in middle school. The book does contain mature content (references to sexual relationships, drug and alcohol use, etc.) in addition to a death scene so I wouldn't recommend it to younger students. It is also set to become a TV series, which would allow for comparison of how the written word is translated onto the screen.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of One of Us is Lying for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

Note: The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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