One of Us is Lying

by

Karen McManus

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One of Us is Lying: Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The narrative switches to Bronwyn’s point of view. Just seconds after Nate recognizes his mother at the front door, Maeve pulls up; Bronwyn hurriedly gets into Maeve’s car. When Maeve asks who the woman at the door is and Bronwyn tells her it’s Nate’s mom, she’s confused; they’d both heard through the grapevine years ago that Nate’s mom had died in a car accident.
As Bronwyn realizes that Nate has been lying to her about a very large, crucial part of his life all along, she is forced to question her own judgement and wisdom.
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Maeve drops Bronwyn at the police station—when she walks inside, her mother, her lawyer Robin, and Detective Mendoza are seated at a table. Neither Addy nor Cooper is there, and Bronwyn feels a flash of anxiety as she realizes investigators are focusing just on her. The detective asks Bronwyn if she is aware that Simon had a “companion website” for About That, where he collected longer posts. Robin tells the detective that Bronwyn won’t answer any questions until she knows why she’s here, and the detective pushes a laptop towards Bronwyn, asking her to determine whether a post that’s pulled up looks “familiar.” As Bronwyn pulls the laptop closer, she already knows what she is about to read—and wishes she had said something about it earlier.
Bronwyn is upset with Nate for having lied to her—or at minimum kept the truth from her—but is now forced to confront the fact that her own lies and half-truths are catching up with her, too.
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The post reveals that at the end of last school year, Maeve attended a party where she got drunk and hit on a varsity basketball player before throwing up in the host’s washing machine. As the adults discuss the post, Bronwyn’s mother grows upset and demands to know what the detectives are trying to accomplish by bringing it into the mix. The detective asks Bronwyn directly if she resented Simon because of his revelation of Maeve’s embarrassment at the party, and her reluctance to participate in the social scene at school since. Robin states that Bronwyn has “no comment,” but Mendoza insists she does—or at least she did—before revealing that the post’s history includes a violent comment left by Bronwyn which reads “Fuck off and die, Simon.”
Bronwyn is fiercely protective of Maeve, and it makes sense that she would react violently to a public post that assaulted Maeve’s character and made disparaging remarks about her. For the police to make the intellectual leap, though, from noticing Bronwyn’s understandable burst of anger to assuming she actually killed Simon, shows that they have few leads elsewhere, and are keeping their unnecessarily tight focus on the Bayview Four in place for lack of any other answers.
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That afternoon, Addy rides her bike over to Jake’s house and rings the doorbell. He welcomes her in, and they sit down in the living room. Jake asks her about the investigation, but Addy doesn’t want to talk about it, and she deflects his question, stating that things have become so cliché that she caught one of the detectives eating doughnuts. Addy says that the detectives should really be looking at Simon himself, and the many others who wanted bad things to happen to him as a result of About That. Knowing that Jake and Simon were friends when they were little, Addy attempts to ask what Simon was like as a child, but Jake accuses Addy of using him for her own little investigation, and says he didn’t invite her over so they could argue.
Against her better judgement—and going back on all the positive changes she’s made in her life—Addy once again puts herself in a situation in which she’s beholden to Jake. She doesn’t realize that perhaps Jake is not as trustworthy as she always thought he was—and still has ill intentions and bad feelings towards Addy as a result of her infidelity.
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Addy asks Jake why invited her over—he claims that he “deserve[s]” to know what’s happening. Addy asks Jake if he’ll ever be able to forgive her, though she admits to herself that she isn’t even sure what “kind” of forgiveness she wants from Jake. He replies that he will never be able to forgive her. Addy is overcome with anger; moments later, as she pedals away on her bike, she congratulates herself for taking control of the situation and refusing to allow Jake to be the arbiter of her own feelings.
Jake’s feelings of entitlement to the details of Addy’s life despite having broken up with her show just how malicious, controlling, and narcissistic he is. Even after putting Addy through the emotional ringer, he still wants to take from her without offering her any forgiveness; realizing what Jake is doing, Addy removes herself from the situation and recommits herself to her path of autonomy and self-discovery.
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Monday afternoon, Cooper laments that his life has become a media circus. News vans are outside his house more often than not, and he doesn’t even go on the internet anymore for fear of encountering slanderous articles about himself. Even weirder than all the negative attention, though, is the positive attention; paparazzi clips of the Bayview Four go viral on Youtube, remade as music videos, and Cooper’s little brother has discovered a Facebook fan page about Cooper with over fifty thousand likes.
This passage illustrates just how absurd and unpredictable social media is, and how unlikely the ways in which people react to what’s shared across its many channels are. Cooper is baffled by the conflicting opinions that come his way every moment, and the ways in which he is seen through the eyes of others.
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Cooper heads out to meet Luis at the gym, and is surprised and miffed when a reporter accosts him at the door. After their workout, Cooper is nervous to leave the building again; Luis offers to dress in Cooper’s clothes and exit first, drawing the reporters so that Cooper can exit safely. The boys switch clothes and car keys, and Cooper is pleasantly surprised when the plan works.
Cooper’s friend Luis proves his allegiance to Cooper in this passage as he offers to put his own comfort on hold to allow Cooper a few moments of peace at the end of a difficult and disorienting day.
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Cooper, high on the feeling of freedom, heads to downtown San Diego and parks in front of an expensive condominium. He gets out of the car and enters the building, riding the elevator up to the top floor and knocking on the penthouse apartment’s door. A man named Kris opens the door and envelops Cooper in a kiss. Cooper feels the world fade away as he relaxes into Kris’s embrace.
In this passage, Cooper’s true secret is revealed—he’s gay and has been carrying on an affair with a man named Kris. McManus at last shows her readers just how much Cooper stands to lose if the truth is revealed—but complicates questions of why he alone was spared from having his darkest, most painful fear realized.
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