Study Guide

Flipped Lies and Deceit

By Wendelin Van Draanen

Lies and Deceit

My dad was convinced I was a coward, and to get me over it, he decided that what I should do was take the carton of eggs back to the Bakers and tell them we didn't eat eggs, or that we were allergic to them, or something.

Then my mom butts in with, "What are you teaching him here, Rick? None of that is true. If he returns them, shouldn't he tell them the truth?"

"What, that you're afraid of salmonella poisoning?"

"Me? Aren't you a little concerned, too?"

"Patsy, that's not the point. The point is, I will not have a coward for a son!"

"But teaching him to lie?"

"Fine. Then just throw them away. But from now on I expect you to look that little tiger square in the eye, you hear me?" (5.176-182)

When it comes to dealing with Juli's eggs, Bryce's mom and dad can't agree on a solution. Bryce's dad thinks maybe his son should just lie. (Nice lesson to teach your kid, Mr. L.) And even though Mrs. Loski isn't okay with this lying business, she also doesn't want her son to tell the Bakers that she's afraid to eat the eggs. This is a sticky situation for poor Bryce. Should he tell Juli how his family really feels and risk hurting her feelings with the truth? Or should he deceive her and avoid embarrassing himself as well?

She stood frozen with the eggs in her hands while I dumped the rest of the trash. "Why did you throw them out?" she asked, but her voice didn't sound like Juli Baker's voice. It was quiet. And shaky.

So I told her we were afraid of salmonella poisoning because her yard was a mess and that we were just trying to spare her feelings. I told it to her like we were right and she was wrong, but I felt like a jerk. A complete cluck-faced jerk. (5.199-200)

When Juli catches Bryce throwing away the eggs, he finally comes clean—but telling the truth doesn't make Bryce feel much better. In fact, he feels worse than ever. He definitely could've told Juli the truth in a much nicer way.

"Because your backyard is, like, covered in turds! I mean, look at your place, Juli!" He pointed at our house and said, "Just look at it. It's a complete dive!"

"It is not!" I cried, but the truth was sitting right across the street, impossible to deny. My throat suddenly choked closed and I found it painful to speak. (6.162-163)

Juli tells us how it goes down when she catches Bryce chucking her eggs. And for Juli, learning the truth super hurts—especially when that truth is about her family's house. Did you notice how physical Juli's reaction is to realizing the truth? Do you think this means Bryce should have kept lying to Juli? Or is there another better option?

"My fiancée was very beautiful. She had the most magnificent brown eyes, and skin like an angel. And for a time all I could see was her beauty. But then…well, let's just say I discovered she wasn't a fraction of the person Renée was." He dipped his brush in the coffee can and stroked a picket with paint. "It's easy to look back and see it, and it's easy to give the advice, but the sad fact is, most people don't look beneath the surface until it's too late." (8.120)

Sometime looks can be super deceiving. And Chet has personal experience with this. Back in the day, he thought good looks were enough, until he realized that it's important to look deeper and get to know the gal underneath. So for Chet the deceptiveness of beauty is a bad thing.

"I was thinking of someone else. Someone who's never been able to look beneath the surface. At this point I don't suppose I even want her to."

Who was he talking about? I wanted to know! But I felt it would be crossing some line to ask, so we painted pickets in silence. (8.122-123)

Chet is such a puzzle—he can be a super chatty fellow, but he can also be a secretive guy. So even though he's told Juli lots about his life, he doesn't give her the full story on what he's thinking about here. Eventually we find out that Chet his talking about his daughter, Mrs. Loski, and how she doesn't know how shallow her handsome hubby is—but even without knowing this full story, we do know that Chet thinks sometimes it's better for people to stay in the dark.

But as I was trucking into the kitchen, I glanced into the family room and noticed that my dad was sacked out on the couch. […]

But I headed down to the bathroom, and on my way I noticed that the family room was empty. The quilt was folded and back on the armrest, the pillow was gone…it was like I'd imagined the whole thing.

At breakfast my father didn't look like he'd spent the night on the couch. No bags under his eyes, no whiskers on his chin. (9.3, 10-11)

Here's the situation: looks are one thing, and reality is another. According to the tidied up family room and the spiffed up Mr. Loski, everything seems good as new. As Bryce says, it's all about the "look" of things. But our man Bryce can't be fooled—he got a peak at what his dad really felt like earlier and where he really slept. His dad might be trying to cover up the truth, but Bryce isn't going to be deceived this time.

Then he smirks at me and says, "I'm sure you've got a perfectly reasonable explanation for why you're carrying a picture of Juli Baker around with you." […]

What was I going to tell him, anyway? That the paper was in my binder because I was trying to hide it from my sister? That would help.

Besides, I didn't want to make up some lame lie about it. I actually wanted to talk to Garrett. I mean, he was my friend, and a lot had happened in the last couple of months that was weighing on me. (9.97, 100-101)

Bryce is weaving himself a web of lies. He's hiding Juli's picture from his sister, and then he starts wondering how he'll explain hiding the picture to Garrett, too. It's a good thing Bryce realizes that it would be better not to lie. Sadly for Bryce, Garrett ends up being a huge jerk about Juli—but at least Bryce makes the right decision not to keep spinning that deceptive little web.

Worse, though, was the way he was acting. Watching my dad chum it up with Juli's dad—it was like seeing him lie. To Mr. Baker, to Juli, to my grandfather—to everybody. Why was he being such a worm? Why couldn't he just act normal? You know, civil? Why did he have to put on such a phony show? This went way beyond keeping the piece with my mother. This was disgusting. (11.35)

Bryce has been trying to be more honest lately—but we can't say the same for his pops. Instead Bryce's dad is just covered in deceit. And when the Bakers come over for dinner, the "phony show" is up and running. Check out how much Bryce hates seeing his father lie. We're thinking that Bryce and his dad definitely have some new issues to work on.

Very quietly my mother said, "For the first time in her life, Patsy is seeing her husband for what he is. It's twenty years and two children late, but that's what she's doing." She gave me a sad smile. "Patsy seems to be going through the same thing you are." […]

While she was gone, I remembered what Chet had said about someone he knew who had never learned to look beneath the surface. Had he been talking about his own daughter? And how could this happen to her after twenty years of marriage? (14.220, 222)

Mrs. Loski is finally seeing the truth about Mr. L, and it isn't pretty. The "surface" has been super deceptive in this book—Mr. L's good looks covered up the fact that he can be really mean and shallow. And the same goes for Bryce. Those blue eyes had Juli smitten even when he acted like a jerk. But now that Mrs. L and Juli know the truth, what should they do with this new information? We're not sure, nut we're super happy Mrs. Baker is there to help these two out.

"Why don't you just listen to what he has to say? He sounded desperate to talk to you."

"What could he possibly have to say? He's already tried to blame Garrett for what he said about Uncle David, and I'm sorry, but I don't buy it. He lied to me, he hasn't stood up for me… he's… he's nobody that I want to like. I just need some time to get over all those year of having liked him." (14.232-233)

Bryce's many deceptions have Juli totally confused. She knows Bryce has told her some lies—and some seriously hurtful ones at that—but she also doesn't know if he lied to her about what went down with Garrett in the library. With all these real lies and maybe-lies, poor Juli doesn't know what to think, though it definitely sounds like she's going to have a hard time trusting Bryce again.