One of Us is Lying

by

Karen McManus

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Social Media and Technology Symbol Analysis

Social Media and Technology  Symbol Icon

Throughout the novel, social media, cell phones, computers, and other forms of technology represent the  double-edged sword of connection in the contemporary digital age. From the novel’s very first page, social media is used as a weapon, a tool of intimidation, and a method of control throughout Bayview High thanks to Simon Kelleher’s ruthless yet reliable gossip app, About That. After Simon’s death—which, despite its mysterious circumstances, seems intimately connected to his role as the primary gossipmonger throughout the Bayview community—many students expect that life at Bayview will return to “normal”; however, when blog posts written from the perspective of Simon’s “murderer” begin cropping up on About This, it becomes clear that the gossip-hungry, social media-saturated atmosphere throughout the school is inescapable.

As the novel unfolds, characters use technology as a means of connecting with one another, often intimately, despite the painful role social media and its attendant modes of access have had in many of their lives; Nate and Bronwyn, desperate to get to know one another better but forbidden from being seen together for fear of arousing suspicious of collusion, use burner phones to communicate with one another and fall asleep on the phone together each night. Meanwhile, Cooper Clay’s cell phone is his only way of communicating with his lover Kris—though their communication renders his phone a liability, and when characters such as his girlfriend Keely interact with the object, Cooper is plunged into abject fear. Meanwhile Mr. Avery, a strict science teacher with a zero-tolerance policy for cell phones in the classroom, is at the heart of the Kelleher murder investigation because all of the students who earned detention in his classroom on the day of Simon’s death had had fake cell phones planted in their backpacks; Avery is repulsed by his students’ addiction to their “screens,” and this calls into question whether he is so hateful of social media, cell phones, and other modes of contemporary communication that he would do something drastic to make a point of it. Throughout the novel, McManus’s vastly different characters navigate the complicated webs of communication that unspool from their various devices, plunge into internet rabbit-holes on websites like 4chan in search of clues to the truth about Simon’s death, and struggle with the media’s perception of the events swarming through their gossip-obsessed high school. As they do so, social media, cell phones, computers, and other tools of technology emerge as symbols of the failures—and possibilities—of modern-day communication.

Social Media and Technology Quotes in One of Us is Lying

The One of Us is Lying quotes below all refer to the symbol of Social Media and Technology . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Stereotypes and Unlikely Connections Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Random House edition of One of Us is Lying published in 2017.
Chapter 1 Quotes

A sex tape. A pregnancy scare. Two cheating scandals. And that's just this week’s update. If all you knew of Bayview High was Simon Kelleher's gossip app, you'd wonder how anyone found time to go to class.

"Old news, Bronwyn," says a voice over my shoulder. "'Wait till you see tomorrow's post."

Damn. I hate getting caught reading About That, especially by its creator. I lower my phone and slam my locker shut. "Whose lives are you ruining next, Simon?"

Simon falls into step beside me as I move against the flow of students heading for the exit. "It’s a public service," he says with a dismissive wave. […] “Anyway, they bring it on themselves. If people didn’t lie and cheat, I’d be out of business.”

Related Characters: Simon Kelleher (speaker), Bronwyn Rojas (speaker)
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

The phone almost slips out of my hand. Another text from Chad Posner came through while I was reading. People r fucked up.

I text back, Where’d you get this?

Posner writes some rando emailed a link, with the laughing-so-hard-I’m-crying emoji. He thinks it’s somebody’s idea of a sick joke. Which is what most people would think, if they hadn’t spent an hour with a police officer asking ten different ways how peanut oil got into Simon Kelleher's cup. Along with three other people who looked guilty as hell.

None of them have as much experience as I do keeping a straight face when shit's falling apart around them. At least, none of them are as good at it as me.

Related Characters: Nate Macauley (speaker), Simon Kelleher
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 16 Quotes

Four days after we're featured on the local news, the story goes national on Mikhail Powers Investigates. I knew it was coming, since Mikhail’s producers had tried to reach my family all week. We never responded, thanks to basic common sense and also Robin’s legal advice. Nate didn’t either, and Addy said she and Cooper both refused to talk as well. So the show will be airing in fifteen minutes without commentary from any of the people actually involved. Unless one of us is lying. Which is always a possibility.

Page Number: 175
Explanation and Analysis:

Maeve and I are sprawled on my bed watching the minutes on my alarm clock tick by until my debut as a national disgrace. Or rather, I am, and she’s combing through the 4chan links she found through Simon’s admin site.

"Check this out," she says, angling her laptop toward me.

The long discussion thread covers a school shooting that happened last spring a few counties over. A sophomore boy concealed a handgun in his jacket and opened fire in the hallway after the first bell. Seven students and a teacher died before the boy turned the gun on himself, I have to read a few of the comments more than once before I realize the thread isn’t condemning the boy, but celebrating him. It’s a bunch of sickos cheering on what he did.

"Maeve." I burrow my head in my arms, not wanting to read any more. "What the hell is this?"

"Some forum Simon was all over a few months back."

I raise my head to stare at her. " Simon posted there? How do you know?"

"He used that AnarchiSK name from About That," Maeve replies.

Related Characters: Bronwyn Rojas (speaker), Maeve Rojas (speaker), Simon Kelleher
Page Number: 176
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 17 Quotes

Sexism is alive and well in true-crime coverage, because Bronwyn and I aren’t nearly as popular with the general public as Cooper and Nate. Especially Nate. All the tween girls posting about us on social media love him. They couldn’t care less that het a convicted drug dealer, because he’s got dreamy eyes.

Same goes for school. Bronwyn and I are pariahs—other than her friends, her sister, and Janae, hardly anyone talks to us. They just whisper behind our backs. But Cooper's as golden as ever. And Nate—well, it’s not like Nate was ever popular, exactly. He’s never seemed to care what people think, though, and he still doesn’t.

Related Characters: Addy Prentiss (speaker), Bronwyn Rojas, Nate Macauley, Cooper Clay, Janae
Page Number: 175
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 21 Quotes

“I'm getting what I deserve, right? That’s what everybody thinks. I guess it's what Simon would’ve wanted. Everything out in the open for people to judge. No secrets."

"Simon . . ." Janae’s got that strangled sound to her voice again. "He’s not . . . He wasn’t like they said. I mean, yes, he went overboard with About That, and he wrote some awful things. But the past couple years have been rough. He tried so hard to be part of things and he never could. I don’t think . . ." She stumbles over her words. "When Simon was himself, he wouldn’t have wanted this for you."

Related Characters: Addy Prentiss (speaker), Janae (speaker), Simon Kelleher
Page Number: 243
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 22 Quotes

I sit with Mary in the interrogation room after Detective Chang leaves, thankful there’s no two-way mirror as I bury my head in my hands. Life as I knew it is over, and pretty soon nobody will look at me the same way. I was going to tell eventually, but in a few years, maybe? When I was a star pitcher and untouchable. Not now. Not like this.

"Cooper." Mary puts a hand on my shoulder. "Your father will be wondering why we're still in here. You need to talk to him."

"I can't," I say automatically. Cain't.

"Your father loves you," she says quietly.

I almost laugh… He loves when I strike out the side and get attention from flashy scouts, and when my name scrolls across the bottom of ESPN. But me?

He doesn’t even know me.

Related Characters: Cooper Clay (speaker), Mary
Page Number: 251-252
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 23 Quotes

[Nate] crosses to our table and dumps his backpack next to Bronwyn. She stands up, winds her arms around his neck, and kisses him like they're alone while the entire cafeteria erupts into gasps and catcalls. I stare as much as everyone else. I mean, I kind of guessed, but this is pretty public. I'm not sure if Bronwyn’s trying to distract everyone from Cooper or if she couldn’t help herself. Maybe both.

Either way, Cooper's effectively been forgotten. He's motionless at the entrance until I grab his arm. "Come sit. The whole murder club at one table. They can stare at all of us together."

Related Characters: Addy Prentiss (speaker), Bronwyn Rojas, Nate Macauley, Cooper Clay
Page Number: 260
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 24 Quotes

Maeve's hand finds mine as Mikhail drops his last bombshell—a screen capture of the 4chan discussion threads, with Simon’s worst posts about the Orange County school shooting highlighted:

Look, I support the notion of violently disrupting schools in theory, but this kid showed a depressing lack of imagination. I mean, it was fine, I guess. It got the job done. But it was so prosaic, Haven't we seen this a hundred times now? Kid shoots up school, shoots up sell film at eleven. Raise the stakes, for God's sake. Do something original.

A grenade, maybe. Samurai swords? Surprise me when you take out a bunch of asshole lemmings. That's all I'm asking.

Related Characters: Bronwyn Rojas (speaker), Simon Kelleher, Maeve Rojas, Mikhail Powers
Page Number: 271
Explanation and Analysis:

I'm not sure you could call it journalism, but Mikhail Powers Investigates definitely has an impact over the next few days. Somebody starts a Change.org petition to drop the investigation that collects almost twenty thousand signatures. The MLB and local colleges get heat about whether they discriminate against gay players. The tone of the media coverage shifts, with more questions being raised about the police’s handling of the case than about us. And when I return to school on Monday, people actually talk to me again. […] Maybe my life won’t ever be fully normal again, but by the end of the week I start to hope it'll be less criminal.

Related Characters: Bronwyn Rojas (speaker), Mikhail Powers
Page Number: 272
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 28 Quotes

"Let's go back to what we know," Bronwyn says. Her voice is almost clinical, but her face is flushed brick red. “Simon was one of those people who thought he should be at the center of everything, but wasn’t. And he was obsessed with the idea of making some kind of huge, violent splash at school. He fantasized about it all the time on those 4chan threads. What if this was his version of a school shooting? Kill himself and take a bunch of students down with him, but in an unexpected way. Like framing them for murder." She turns to her sister. "What did Simon say on 4chan, Maeve? Do something original. Surprise me when you take out a bunch of lemming assholes."

Related Characters: Bronwyn Rojas (speaker), Cooper Clay (speaker), Simon Kelleher, Maeve Rojas
Page Number: 314
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 29 Quotes

I look up from the papers. "Why?" I ask, bile rising in my throat. "How did Simon get to this point?"

"He'd been depressed for a while," Janae says, kneading the fabric of her black skirt between her hands. The stacks of studded bracelets she wears on both arms rattle with the movement. "Simon always felt like he should get a lot more respect and attention than he did, you know? But he got really bitter about it this year. He started spending all his time online with a bunch of creepers, fantasizing about getting revenge on everyone who made him miserable. It got to the point where I don’t think he even knew what was real anymore. Whenever something bad happened, he blew it way out of proportion."

Related Characters: Addy Prentiss (speaker), Janae (speaker), Simon Kelleher
Page Number: 322
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 30 Quotes

"Maeve, I don't care about Twitter," I say wearily. I haven’t been on there since this whole mess started. Even with my profile set to private, I couldn’t deal with the onslaught of opinions.

"I know. But you should see this." She hands me her phone and points to a post on my timeline from Yale University: To err is human @BronwynRojas. We look forward to receiving your application.

Related Characters: Bronwyn Rojas (speaker), Maeve Rojas
Page Number: 347
Explanation and Analysis:
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Social Media and Technology Symbol Timeline in One of Us is Lying

The timeline below shows where the symbol Social Media and Technology appears in One of Us is Lying. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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...behind her at her locker and tells her to just wait until she sees tomorrow’s post. Bronwyn, embarrassed to be caught on About That—especially by Simon of all people—closes her locker... (full context)
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...team’s newest recruit. She tries to plead her case to Mr. Avery, insisting that the phone he found in her backpack earlier wasn’t hers. To prove it, she holds up her... (full context)
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Addy turns around, shocked; a dummy phone was in her bag, too. Cooper speaks up to say that the same thing happened... (full context)
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...hour, until 4:00 P.M., they’ll each be tasked with writing a 500-word essay on how technology is ruining American high schools—by hand. Whoever doesn’t complete their essay will have to return... (full context)
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...Nate is the criminal, and Simon is the “omniscient narrator.” Cooper thinks of Simon’s widely-hated gossip app , and wishes Simon wouldn’t publish the cruel rumors that already make the hallways of... (full context)
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...needs an epi-pen. Bronwyn gets up to find a teacher and call 9-1-1, grabbing her phone from Mr. Avery’s desk and running into the hall. Cooper kneels next to Simon, whose... (full context)
Chapter 2
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...clearly frightened. When they arrive at Bronwyn’s house, she hops off the bike, and her phone begins ringing. She pulls it out of her backpack and answers it—the call upsets her,... (full context)
Chapter 3
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...Almost the whole class is crying and swiping through Simon’s app, About That, on their phones. Though Bronwyn always hated the app, she admired it slightly; despite being a gossip app,... (full context)
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Addy remembers Simon saying something about the cell phones that had wound up in all their bags, the result of a prank. Bronwyn elaborates,... (full context)
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The officer asks if any of the students ever had trouble with Simon or his gossip app —Nate was the only one of them ever featured on the app, and though he... (full context)
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...evening. Keely hugs Cooper and gives him a pack of his favorite candy. Cooper’s cell phone buzzes in his pocket—he pulls it out. Someone has texted him “Hey, handsome.” He tries... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...grade school and middle school, before Jake got into sports. Addy thinks that Simon started About That to impress Jake and even try and restore their friendship, but the move backfired when... (full context)
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Nate checks on his beloved lizard, Stan, and then answers his phone when it beeps. A girl named Amber whom he met at a party last month... (full context)
Chapter 5
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The following evening, Bronwyn and her sister Maeve are watching Netflix. Bronwyn can’t concentrate on the show, though; she can’t stop thinking about how the About... (full context)
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...say anything. She hopes that they will be able to keep their secret. Now that About That is gone, Addy must admit she is awash in relief. (full context)
Chapter 6
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...runs into Leah—a girl who tried to kill herself last year after Simon made a post about her sleeping around, which led to her being harassed for several months. Cooper is... (full context)
Chapter 7
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...Addy’s presence is voluntary, and she can leave at any time. The detective pulls a laptop out of her messenger bag and navigates to the admin panel Simon used to manage... (full context)
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As Wheeler goes on and on about how much pressure social media adds to kids’ lives, Addy remembers that she does not have to answer any questions... (full context)
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...been confronted by an officer, Detective Chang, who similarly shows him Simon’s unpublished About That post. When Cooper sees the allegations of his steroid use, his pulse slows down; it is... (full context)
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Chang brings up the dummy cell phones, and Cooper states that he still doesn’t know who was responsible for those or why.... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...officers think Bronwyn would hurt someone over a lie. Bronwyn speaks up and admits the post was not a lie—she confesses that she did cheat by stealing chemistry tests off her... (full context)
Chapter 9
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...hear it from someone else would be terrible. Addy realizes that her sister is right—after texting Jake to ask if she can come over, she has Ashton drive her back towards... (full context)
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...Addy, Cooper, Nate, and Bronwyn murdered Simon. She tells him about the motive—the About That post detailing all four students’ secrets. Addy takes a second to muster up some courage, and... (full context)
Chapter 10
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...is. Robin suggests Bronwyn think about “maintaining distance” from the other students—she advises Bronwyn against texting or emailing them, as this could give police further ammunition for their theories. (full context)
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...supposed to talk to him. He reaches into his bag and pulls out a flip phone—a burner. He explains that no one but him has the number, and they can use... (full context)
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...Cooper witnesses Jake punching TJ in the face; Cooper realizes that the part of Simon’s About That column concerning Addy must be true. At lunch, Addy sits with Cooper, Keely, and the... (full context)
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Keely asks Cooper if she can look at a picture on his phone and show it to one of her other friends; they are trying to plan their... (full context)
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...struggling with a heavy box. He offers Avery his help, but when Avery sees Cooper’s phone in his hand, he disdainfully denies his offer. Avery condemns Cooper—and all the other students... (full context)
Chapter 11
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...them that he’s not planning on dealing drugs for a while. He tosses the burner phone he used to make those calls, and pulls out a new one, which he uses... (full context)
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...Bronwyn ask, “Did you do it?” Knowing she is referring both to the About That post and Simon’s murder, he replies, “Yes and no.” Bronwyn admits the same—she is guilty of... (full context)
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Nate’s real phone goes off—it’s the girl he’s been hooking up with, asking if he wants to meet... (full context)
Chapter 12
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Thursday afternoon at lunchtime, Bronwyn notices that everyone around her is suddenly pulling out their phones and whispering—some of them are even staring right at her. Maeve shows Bronwyn her phone.... (full context)
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Bronwyn is anxious all day—until midnight, when Nate calls her on the burner phone. He has been calling her every night since Monday, divulging secrets about his painful home... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...found out. The two fall half-asleep watching the movie, as Nate ignores a series of texts from his frequent hookup, Amber. Bronwyn tells Nate she has to hang up, as her... (full context)
Chapter 14
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...she has traced Simon’s username on the site to an account on the popular forum 4chan. Maeve wants to come back to the library later with a thumb drive to collect... (full context)
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...the way home, Maeve and Bronwyn stop at a neighborhood nearby—Nate has left another burner phone for Bronwyn in a mailbox at a random address. Maeve knows all about Bronwyn’s clandestine... (full context)
Chapter 16
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...knows, no one else from school has, either. As Bronwyn waits anxiously, Maeve combs through 4chan threads looking for posts under Simon’s username—she soon finds a violent thread celebrating a recent... (full context)
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...the investigation and is behind him no matter what—she doesn’t even care about what’s being posted on the new About This blog, including a post earlier that morning which suggested that... (full context)
Chapter 17
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...both at school and in the media coverage of the Bayview Four—meanwhile, everyone on the internet is swooning over Cooper and Nate, and the boys aren’t being ostracized at school, either.... (full context)
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...tell him anything about herself, but got him to agree to look into Simon’s strange internet presence more. Kleinfelter also mentioned that the timing of the car accident during detention was... (full context)
Chapter 18
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...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... (full context)
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The post reveals that at the end of last school year, Maeve attended a party where she... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
Chapter 19
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...It is midnight by the time Nate finally loops back to Bayview; there is a text on his phone notifying him of a party happening that night, and he decides to... (full context)
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...already furious with her and have grounded her for not telling them about Simon’s blog post. Nevertheless, when she receives a text from Nate telling her he’s waiting outside, she opens... (full context)
Chapter 20
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...father reminds him that he has to go in for steroid testing tomorrow—ever since Simon’s posthumous post, Cooper has had to get tested every week, despite the fact that he’s never... (full context)
Chapter 21
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...sister’s defense, pointing out that no one is talking about the other angle—about how awful About That made Bayview. Maeve suggests Leah go talk to the press and tell them the other... (full context)
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Maeve begins typing furiously on her phone, and tells Bronwyn that she’s sending Simon’s 4chan threads to Mikhail Powers’s team. She has... (full context)
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...secrets are out in the open. Janae quietly says that though Simon went overboard with About That , he wasn’t what everyone thought he was. When he was “himself,” he “wouldn’t have... (full context)
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...girls make small talk with Addy’s mother for a while before heading upstairs to watch Netflix. Looking around at Addy’s princess-pink room, Janae asks Addy if she misses her life “before”;... (full context)
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...the doorway with her backpack on—she complains that she isn’t feeling well and leaves. Addy texts Bronwyn, complaining about how weird the situation is, and Bronwyn writes back almost immediately: “Be... (full context)
Chapter 22
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...bring him in only if needed. In the interrogation room, Detective Chang pulls out a laptop and turns it around to face Cooper—he reveals that they “missed something” in their initial... (full context)
Chapter 24
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...he’s living in a “nightmare.” His father won’t talk to him, he’s being “torn apart” online, and none of the teams scouting him will return his coach’s calls. The others express... (full context)
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...to the bottom of what’s actually happening to them. She points out that “somebody” planted phones on them to get them all in the same room; meanwhile, Simon was mixed up... (full context)
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...who’s been spending time with her and Addy; the details in all the About This posts have been very accurate, so they have to have been written by someone who has... (full context)
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Most stunningly, Mikhail Powers airs interviews with students harmed by Simon’s posts—and then displays screen-grabs of the violent 4chan discussion threads to which Simon contributed; in one... (full context)
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...the investigation. The tone of the media coverage of the case shifts; someone starts an online petition on Change.org to drop the investigation; Major League Baseball and local colleges “get heat”... (full context)
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Friday night, Bronwyn and Nate stay up late flirting on the phone. Saturday morning, Bronwyn lets herself stay in bed a little bit later than usual, and... (full context)
Chapter 25
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...from Mikhail Powers Investigates, though, Bronwyn is struck by an idea; she picks up her phone and searches the internet for Eli Kleinfelter’s number, then calls him. He answers on the... (full context)
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...get into the car and start driving towards the police station, Bronwyn notices that her phone is blowing up with texts, calls, and other social media notifications, but she ignores them... (full context)
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...and Bronwyn pull back into their driveway, the lawn is swarming with reporters, who shove microphones in Bronwyn’s face and ask her questions about her relationship with Nate. Maeve and Bronwyn... (full context)
Chapter 26
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...Nate’s house Saturday morning, and in Nate’s closet found a computer with access to the About This blog on it. Mrs. Macauley says that Nate doesn’t know how any of the evidence... (full context)
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Addy’s phone rings—it’s Bronwyn, who sounds if she’s been crying. She asks Addy to stop by later... (full context)
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Inside, Maeve is on her laptop and Cooper is sprawled out in an armchair. Addy asks Bronwyn if she’s seen Nate,... (full context)
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Maeve pulls up the blog on her laptop and they all begin reading. When they reach a certain post, Cooper points to a... (full context)
Chapter 27
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...Bronwyn is in her room with Maeve and Addy, working on the case. After she texted Mrs. Macauley a link to the About This post she, Addy, and Cooper had flagged... (full context)
Chapter 28
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...Simon—he was depressed, he paid two kids to stage an accident, he had a “creepy online persona,” he was fighting with Janae, he had a thing for Keely, and used to... (full context)
Chapter 29
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...her, though he’d never done something like that before. She wonders whether he put the phone into her bag then. She is sickened by the idea that Jake has done something... (full context)
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...trying to get in touch with Janae all week, but Janae has been avoiding her texts and calls. Addy has finally decided just to show up at Janae’s house—Cooper has offered... (full context)
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...bitter in the past year. Janae speculates that all the time Simon spent on creepy web forums resulted in his having trouble telling “what was real”; his moods became volatile and desperate,... (full context)
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Janae reveals that while Jake kept posting to the new About This blog, Janae urged Jake to stop before things went too... (full context)
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...room while Janae answers the door. She starts up the voice recording app on her phone and overhears Jake telling Janae that she needs to start showing up at school and... (full context)
Chapter 30
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...in the span of just a few weeks. Cooper’s little brother tells him that his Facebook fan page is up to a hundred thousand “likes,” but Cooper’s grandma looks forward to Cooper being... (full context)
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...go away, she says, she has something exciting to show her; Maeve pulls out her phone and navigates to Twitter, where Yale University has tweeted, in response to her Mikhail Powers... (full context)