The student news site of Stroudsburg High School


The student news site of Stroudsburg High School


The student news site of Stroudsburg High School


The Mystery Behind Finding a New Read

Are you in a reading slump?
Alexis Binikos
These are the books One of Us Is Lying,by Karen M. McManus, and Defending Jacob, by William Landay.

Every bookworm has reached the dreaded point where they finish a book they love and can’t seem to find another they adore quite as much.

Readers who enjoy the murder mystery genre will marvel at the sensations of One of Us Is Lying, by Karen M. McManus, and Defending Jacob, by William Landay. 

Recently, One of Us Is Lying has become popular among young adults. The novel is a dramatic spin on the classic 80’s film, The Breakfast Club. The story focuses on a group of students from different social stereotypes who spend detention together. However, the story takes a dramatic turn when one of the students is murdered and the rest find themselves as suspects in the murder. 

The novel Defending Jacob focuses on assistant district attorney, Andy Barber and his family. Andy’s son, Jacob becomes the main suspect in a case focusing on the murder of one of his classmates, Ben Rifkin. Now, his marriage and career are on the line as he rallies to protect his son. 

One of Us Is Lying profiles the emotions and thoughts of each main character throughout different chapters by switching the point of view. 

“I enjoyed that the author wrote the book from each of the character’s perspective,” said Jessica Haggerty, 11. “Each character was well developed and kept us guessing who the murderer was.”  If you enjoy a story where you feel like you know the characters, then this book is for you.

On the contrary, in Defending Jacob, Landay never gives the reader a clear path to Jacob’s thoughts and feelings; he shrouds Jacob in mystery. When it comes to murder mysteries, readers are entertained when there are uncertainties they feel about a character.

“I want the character to be someone who I’m not able to tell what they’re thinking,” says Tanya Sathapornwongkul, 10. “If the characters’ moves in the investigation are predictable, it feels like I’m just reading another mystery book I’ll forget about in a month. Nothing worthwhile or memorable.” 

Defending Jacob captures the reader’s attention without even flipping a single page. After reading the captivating brief description of the book on the back cover, readers become desperate to know how it ends.

Landay explains how Andy Barber, his wife, Laurie, and their son, Jacob, live a perfect life in a quiet, suburban town. However, after the murder of a high schooler occurs, that perfection is shattered as Jacob becomes a prime suspect. This situation puts pressure on Andy’s marriage and devotion as a parent by testing how well he truly knows his son. If you like suspense and tension, this is the book for you. 

“Landay draws an agonizing portrait of a family in distress,” reports The Washington Post. “The ability to create original, even astonishing plots is not evenly bestowed on writers.” 

This book dives into the ideas of attachment and loyalty to those you love. Landay’s story captures readers through one simple question, “How far would you go?” 

“I come from a family of immigrants. The majority of my family is actually still in my parent’s home country, so I’m here because of countless sacrifices for my sake.” says Sathapornwongkul, “It makes me wonder what my parents would do if they were in Andy’s position. It also helps me envision and relate to what Andy would do for Jacob.”

Want to get into a good murder mystery novel? Now’s the time to start! One of Us Is Lying and Defending Jacob are perfect for your next read. If you complete reading one of these interesting books, feel free to comment on your thoughts.  

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