One of Us is Lying is a murder mystery and debut book by Karen M. McManus.
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.
My thoughts with spoilers:
This book was infuriating to me on so many levels. Here are the top three reasons:
- This book heavily relied on stereotypes for each character. It showed very little creativity from the author. I find it insulting to represent teenagers in these narrow boxes.
- There were four major plot twists, and I was able to figure out 3 of the 4 VERY early in the book.
- The representation of sex in high school was ridiculous. As if every Friday night high schoolers go to parties and randomly sleep with classmates they don’t know, can’t really remember who they’ve slept with, and of course, everybody is cheating on their partner. Sex was portrayed as no big deal, having no consequences, and no regrets. Only one character wasn’t having sex in this book, and it was the good-girl wannabe Yale student, because – you know – stereotypes.
I usually connect the books to my Catholic faith. I’m going to approach this from a secular point of view.
What do studies from the last year tell us about teen sex?
Teenagers are having less sex now compared to the past. In 2007 ~48% of teens reported having sex. In the most recent study, it was only ~39%.
Those who have had sex with multiple partners is less than 10%.
Only about 14% of high school students have participated in sexting.
The Atlantic magazine claims that high schoolers are in a “sex recession.” A few quotes:
“Young people are launching their sex lives later and having sex less frequently than members of previous generations.”
“In the space of a generation, sex has gone from something most high-school students have experienced to something most haven’t.”
“People now in their early 20s are two and a half times as likely to be abstinent as Gen Xers were at that age”
This book portrayed no consequences to having sex. Let’s ignore pregnancy and STDs and focus solely on emotional well being. Studies are VERY clear about the results.
BMC Public Health reported that teen sex has long-lasting negative impacts on the quality of life.
Journal of School Health reported, “teens who don’t date are happier, less depressed, and more adept at dealing with a variety of social situations.”
The consequences for girls are a lot higher compared to boys. Here are a few shocking results (direct quotes) from studies:
Of seniors in high school, 74% of girls regret sexual experiences
Sexually active teenage girls are more than twice as likely to suffer depression
Sex therapists have found that the roots of sexual issues facing adults often date back to regretful teenage experiences. Research has also found that being abstinent in the teen years was associated with better mental health at age 29. Girls who were virgins at age 18 were also less likely to have a mental illness at age 40.
Girls are more than twice as likely as boys to say they felt bad about themselves and more than three times as likely to say they felt used as a result of engaging in sex or hookups.
. . . both the girls and the boys who were hooking up often were depressed and didn’t feel very good about themselves.
My county has a program that teaches Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA), which is a fancy way of saying they teach abstinence in schools. In this program, they talk to the high school students separate from their parents. They ask both groups the same question:
At what age do you think is appropriate for someone to lose their virginity?
The average for high school students: 21
The average for their parents: 18
Adults, we need to wake up. We should be the ones having higher expectations for our children than they have for themselves.
To those who write television shows, books, and music. PLEASE realistically represent teenagers. Teens are not having sex the way they are being depicted in current tv shows, books, and music.
There are life long negative emotional consequences to having sex as a teenager (also physical health risks I didn’t discuss). Parents need to start recognizing what the research is telling us, and start educating children to the truth about teen sex.
The International Journal of Sexual Health reported, “Parents play a significant role in influencing their children’s sexual attitude, experience, and behaviors.”