Books contemporary Crime fiction LGBT mystery thriller Young Adult

“One of Us Is Lying” by Karen M. McManus is a murder mystery with a message

For a young adult novel, One of Us Is Lying has everything: high school drama, a murder mystery, pretty big secrets, a love story and the sense of good overcoming evil. Karen M. McManus spins an interesting tale of what happens when five totally different students are in the same room when one of them dies and shows that sometimes circumstances change everything you thought you once knew. If you’re a fan of The Breakfast Club, Revenge or Pretty Little Liars, then I have a feeling you’d enjoy this book, too.

One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

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.


Once I started this book I couldn’t put it down and pretty much read it in one sitting, there was something a little addictive about it. It’s not a hard read, which is good for a young adult novel, but still has enough complexity to keep you interested and keep you guessing.

All the characters start off exactly what you expect – it’s obvious Simon loves winding everyone up, Addy and Cooper are in the same group of friends, Bronwyn doesn’t really know anyone else in the room that well and Nate doesn’t even seem to care that much about anything, especially school related. But none of the characters turn out anything like what you expect. There is so much more to each of them than meets the eye and McManus provides such an incredible, powerful character arc for all of them. Everything they go through wakes them up and they have personal revelations to make – but sometimes you have to get a little messed up, before you can step up.

This leads me to the deeper message in the book, told perfectly from Cooper’s grandmother: Sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better.

“Now, now.” She sits across from me with her toast and offers me a slice, but I push it back toward her. “Give it time. Do you remember what I told you in the hospital?” I shake my head. “Things’ll get worse before they get better. Well, they surely did get worse, and now there’s nowhere to go but up.”
― Karen M. McManus, One of Us Is Lying

At some point we’ve all said ‘this can’t get any worse’ and then bitterly laughed at the irony when it does. Every time we think the world must be done with knocking us down we get hit down again. But what this book reminds us of is that sometimes this happens, but when it does, it will let up at some point and it will get better. When you hit rock bottom the only way is up.

I don’t want to spoil the book for you, but what I will say is that just about every character in this book is a testament to that statement.

Everyone has their own personal storm, but no matter what that storm is there will be an end to it. You just need to be strong enough to survive it and when you do, things will start to pick up.

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