One of Us is Lying


Karen McManus

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Themes and Colors
Stereotypes and Unlikely Connections Theme Icon
Gossip, Secrets, and Lies Theme Icon
Wisdom of the Youth Theme Icon
Millennial Problems Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in One of Us is Lying, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Stereotypes and Unlikely Connections

At the start of the novel, Karen M. McManus introduces four characters who seem to be little more than teen-movie archetypes: there is the brain (Bronwyn), the jock (Cooper), the popular princess (Addy), and the druggie burnout or “criminal” (Nate). Despite being well-aware of the stereotypes they present to the world, all of these characters are also painfully aware and sometimes even frightened of the ways in…

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Gossip, Secrets, and Lies

From the novel’s very first page, Karen M. McManus establishes that the world of Bayview High is ruled by a volatile network of gossip, secrets, and lies. The novel’s title is deceiving—it’s not just one of the protagonists, but all four, who are lying to each other and often to themselves. Over the course of the novel, McManus puts her characters on separate but connected paths: away from lives lived in fear of their secrets…

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Wisdom of the Youth

One of Us Is Lying is largely set at Bayview High, and its four major “point-of-view” characters are all students there. Though young and seemingly naïve, having been raised in an idyllic Southern California town, the four main characters prove over the course of the novel that they are more savvy, passionate, and well-adjusted than many of the adults in their lives. As the novel’s young protagonists work together to solve the mysterious web of…

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Millennial Problems

One of Us Is Lying is set in a contemporary high school in Southern California. The students who attend Bayview High are millennials—a generation facing down a unique set of problems both serious and shallow, ranging from entitlement issues to financial uncertainty to social media addiction. Through each of the four major characters in the novel—Bronwyn, Addy, Nate, and Cooper—as well as the absent but “omniscient” Simon, author Karen…

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