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  • Writer's pictureBrandi Prater

Everyone has secrets, right?

Updated: Oct 23, 2022


McManus, K. M. (2017, May 30). One of Us Is Lying. Delacorte Press. ISBN 978-1524714758


Pay close attention and you might solve this. Five students walked into detention, and only four walk out. When the creator of a high school gossip app mysteriously dies in front of four high-profile students all four become suspects. According to the investigators, Simon’s death wasn’t an accident. Simon, the creator of a high school gossip app, was planning to post juicy reveals about all four of his classmates the next day, which makes them each suspect. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?


The story begins when five students are thrown together in detention. Things quickly take a turn for the worse when Simon, the student behind the school’s infamous gossip app, drops dead in the middle of detention. When the police discover that Simon’s water was laced with peanut oil, which Simon was allergic to, the other four students go from unfortunate witnesses to top murder suspects. Every one of them has a different reason for wanting Simon dead. Lucky for them, he dies right before revealing life-ruining secrets about all four of them on his gossip app the next day. Even though I chose this book based on a review describing it as “The Breakfast Club” with a murderous twist, it quickly deviates from the premise into a smart, twisted, and unpredictable YA mystery that will have most readers guessing until the very end.

Written from the point of view of the “other” teens, the story is told through alternating chapters as each student takes a turn at narrating. Their voices offer insights into common adolescent struggles which include the pressure to succeed, strained relationships, alcoholic parents, unlikely romances, and opportunities for self-reflection. As the investigation escalates, the tension builds as secrets are revealed in a way that mirrors the gossip app. This book was so addictive that it was hard to put down. McManus did such an amazing job of making the reader just as interested in the individual secrets of the characters as you are in uncovering the central mystery of Simon’s death.

At the beginning, keeping the characters straight might be a tough task for some. The audio version escalates the challenge but alternating between the audio and print version will help clear up the confusion. It is also easier to focus on the motives of each character and their “hobbies”, which quickly makes them easier to distinguish. The narrators; Kim Mai Guest, MacLeod Andrews, Shannon McManus, Robbie Daymond, were cast perfectly. Their voices were very fitting for the main characters and really brought them to life. There were moments where you were transported into the characters’ lives as they vividly captured their excitement and fear. There was a natural pacing in the audio version that allows you to fully immerse yourself in the most intense scenes. For this book, I alternated between listening to the unabridged version on Sora and reading the print version when at home. It is available on Libby and Audible as well.

I absolutely loved this book and McManus’ writing. I’m a committed fan now and I can’t wait to read One of Us is Next and her other books. This book/author is highly recommended to teens, but I think adults are going to enjoy this as well.


It’s a murder mystery, Breakfast Club–style: five students from different social spheres walk into detention. Only four walk out. Simon, the outcast at the helm of the high school’s brutal (and always true) gossip app has been murdered, and he had dirt on all four students in detention with him. Brainy good-girl Bronwyn knows she didn’t kill Simon, and she doesn’t think drug-dealing Nate, everyone’s favorite suspect, did either. Simon knew something that could ruin homecoming princess Addy’s perfect relationship, but Addy’s always been so timid. And baseball superstar Cooper has a secret, but it’s not what Simon said, and everyone knows Simon was never wrong. Trailed by suspicion, the four team up to clear their names—and find the real ­killer—even as proving their innocence becomes increasingly more difficult. Told in alternating perspectives among the four, this is a fast-paced thriller with twists that might surprise even the most hardened mystery reader. An engaging, enticing look at the pressures of high school and the things that cause a person to lose control. Grades 9-12

- Booklist (May 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 17))


  • YALSA Teens’ Top Ten Selection, 2018

  • YALSA Top Ten Best Fiction Book (Nominee),

  • YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, 2018

  • Goodreads Best Young Adult Book of the Year (Nominee)

  • New York Public Library’s Best Book for Teens Selection

  • #1 New York Times, USA Today, ABA IndieBound, and International Bestseller


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Classroom Applications

  • Trace the main characters' personal growth over the course of the novel.


  • Create a map of Mr. Avery’s classroom based on the description during detention. Include teacher’s desk, student seated or standing, window, and sink


  • Create a soundtrack with at least 2 songs representing each of the four stereotypical narrators as well as Simon

Relationship Tree

  • Using a family tree model, create a relationship tree for the students in the novel. The connections between characters can be displayed as a tree, graph, or chart


  • Cooper is compared to Captain American, and Keely is compared to Angelina Jolie. Draw, paint, or sculpt a caricature of either character. Reference text and exaggerate the character's features.


  • Choose a pair of friends from the text and create a representational Usie (A group selfie)

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