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.
This quote, narrated by Bronwyn at the opening of Chapter One, introduces the main focus of Bayview High’s gossip-obsessed student body. These lines establish the school’s toxic atmosphere and foreshadow that lives will be ruined by gossip and social media. They also introduce the story’s antagonist and creator of About That app, Simon Kelleher. Simon’s gossip app has made him a notorious figure at Bayview High. Though he secretly wants to be popular, Simon glorifies his role as outcast by punishing the people who won’t accept him. The level of scandal he divulges here reveals a troubled student populace. It also illustrates that Simon has talent for unearthing people’s secrets on a regular basis. He uses this talent as a powerful weapon to keep the students of Bayview High afraid of both Simon and their own actions as they navigate adolescence. Because of Simon’s app, it is especially important for the teens of Bayview High to make careful choices that won’t leave them exposed or humiliated.
Four days after we’re features on the local news the story goes national on Mikhail Powers Investigates. … 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.
This quote, narrated by Bronwyn in the beginning of Chapter Sixteen, contains the only reference to the book’s title. It’s a sly reference, and the last two lines of the quote illustrate the distrust that exists both in the high school and among the four students who were in detention when Simon died. Bronwyn is optimistic and hopes that the four will be able to form a united front and work together to clear their names, but she also realizes that she does not really know any of the other students, and she questions if there is actually anyone she can really trust. Her instinct tells her to never fully believe anyone’s story. This belief is partly due to the culture of secrets and lies at her school. She also can’t let go of the thought that everyone has something to hide. This concern is valid, especially since Bronwyn is hiding her own secret.
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 he’s a convicted drug dealer, because he’s got dreamy eyes.
This quote, narrated by Addy at the beginning of Chapter Seventeen, serves two purposes. First, it illustrates the fickleness of social media. Historically, women have been torn down and criticized for the smallest of flaws. McManus highlights this trend as the media attention on the case glorifies the males involved and portrays the females negatively. Second, these words reflect the jealousy Addy feels about the positive attention Nate and Cooper are receiving from people across the country. Addy has been conditioned to believe that she is only valued if she is attractive, and this belief has been reinforced by the culture in Bayview High. Addy’s views on attention—whether positive or negative—are reflective of her home life and the toxic values her mother instills.