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Everyone Here Is Lying: Summary and Character Analysis

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The following is a complete summary and character analysis for Everyone Here Is Lying by Shari Lapena.

Everyone Here Is Lying by Shari Lapena is a thrilling book from 2023 that delves into the complexities of family life and the impact of deception.

Lapena, known for exploring psychological aspects in domestic settings, narrates the story of nine-year-old Avery Wooler’s disappearance and her family’s struggle to cope with the abduction.

The novel explores themes of deceit, guilt, and the emotional toll of criminal investigations.

Everyone Here Is Lying by Shari Lapena

In this guide we will go through the complete summary and character analysis for Everyone Here Is Lying by Shari Lapena. Note that the guide contains spoilers as well as references to critical plot points and the conclusion of this novel, so proceed with caution. Enjoy! ✨

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Everyone Here Is Lying Summary

William Wooler returns home after a breakup with his mistress, Nora Blanchard. Upon arriving home, his daughter Avery talks back to him, leading to him losing his temper and hitting her. William apologizes, fearing Avery will tell her mother. Overwhelmed by guilt, he leaves home.

Michael Wooler, William’s son, discovers Avery missing upon returning home. His mother, Erin, calls the police, prompting William’s return. Detectives Bledsoe and Gully question the family, who deny any trouble at home. Nora, unaware of the incident, hears about Avery’s abduction on the news. Nora’s husband, Al, and son, Ryan, join the search.

The next day, Michael reveals his father’s regular abuse of Avery due to behavioral issues. The police suspect William of killing Avery. William’s burner phone is found, and he confesses to an affair but conceals Nora’s identity. He admits to slapping Avery after seeing her at home following the affair. Gully interviews Avery’s friend Jenna, who discloses an older “boyfriend” touching Avery. An anonymous tip suggests Avery was seen getting into Ryan Blanchard’s car on the day of her disappearance.

Michael informs Detective Gully that he saw Derek, Alice’s son, with Avery at a treehouse in the woods once. Al, Nora’s husband, admits to knowing about Nora’s affair with William during his interview with the detectives. Gully questions Derek about touching Avery, but he denies any involvement.

The police trace the anonymous caller, Marion Cooke, who lives on the same street as the Woolers. Marion reveals she didn’t disclose her identity due to fear of her abusive ex-husband.

Marion returns home and discusses the plan with Avery, who asked her to hide and fake a disappearance to punish William. Unbeknownst to Avery, Marion is fixated on William, aiming to kill Avery and frame Ryan for the murder.

Motivated by resentment over William choosing Nora, Marion wants them to suffer. While watching TV in the basement, Avery learns about Ryan’s arrest. Erin seeks the witness’s identity and confronts Marion, suspecting deception. Marion admits to being the witness, and Erin leaves. Overhearing Marion’s plan, Avery urges her to recant the statement to save Ryan. Marion decides to kill Avery the next day.

Detective Gully realizes Marion’s lie about hiding from her ex-husband, noting she still lives in her hometown and hasn’t changed her name. Marion puts sleeping pills in Avery’s milk, but Avery senses the danger before finishing it.

When Marion appears later, Avery pushes her down the stairs, causing her death. Avery feigns fear, rushing out as Gully arrives. Gully calls for EMTs, and Avery reunites with her family. Marion’s body is discovered in the house, and Avery tells the police that William hit her, causing her fall, while Marion kidnapped her.

Erin and William clash over doubts about Avery’s account. In the following weeks, Erin is surprised that Avery appears happy and unaffected by trauma. Avery expresses a desire to share her story with the media, gaining Erin’s approval. On national television, Avery misspeaks, mentioning being upset at Marion for double-crossing her. The interviewer prompts her to start anew and reveal the true sequence of events.

Everyone Here Is Lying Character Analysis

Erin Wooler

Erin Wooler, Avery’s mother, is a character marked by her emotional nature, kindness, and sensitivity. Her portrayal combines static and round character traits. Despite Avery’s manipulative actions, Erin consistently sees the positive side of her daughter. Overwhelmed by guilt over Avery’s disappearance, Erin feels like she failed as a mother for not adequately protecting her.

The revelation that Avery kept silent about being molested adds to Erin’s grief and guilt, making her wish for a more open relationship with her daughter. As Avery’s disappearance continues, Erin, feeling a lack of control, seeks someone to blame. Her actions, such as confronting Ryan and questioning neighbors, showcase the psychological toll of crime and investigation. While Avery aims to punish her father, Erin also suffers significantly during the ordeal, experiencing both physical and emotional decline.

Throughout the narrative, Erin gains agency as the abduction prompts her to reassess her marriage and parenting. Despite consistently defending Avery from William’s mistreatment, Erin takes decisive action to leave and protect her daughter only upon discovering William’s infidelity. This realization forces Erin to reflect on Avery’s impact on her life and recognize the severity of William’s abuse. Her decision to leave aims to protect herself, Michael, and eventually, Avery.

Post-William’s departure, Erin grapples with the challenges of parenting, feeling insecure about controlling Avery. Her friendship with neighbor Gwen Winter becomes pivotal. Gwen understands the difficulties of raising a neurodivergent child, helping Erin see the unfair societal pressures placing blame on her for Avery’s actions. Gwen becomes the only person who truly comprehends Erin’s unique challenges as a mother.

Erin learns to guide Avery rather than control her, shedding the responsibility unfairly placed on her for her daughter’s actions. This evolution adds depth to Erin’s character, challenging conventional notions of “good” and “bad” actions. Despite initial decisions that endangered her daughter, Erin eventually prioritizes her family’s well-being by leaving William for good.

William Wooler

William Wooler, a highly respected doctor at Stanhope Hospital and Avery’s father, is a character with both static and round attributes. The narrative is significantly driven by his involvement in an affair with his neighbor, Nora Blanchard, who volunteers at the hospital. This affair becomes a central element as Marion, a nurse from the same hospital, becomes envious and plots to harm Avery out of jealousy towards William and Nora.

William’s internal struggles trace back to his own childhood abuse, a troubling past he uses to justify mistreating Avery. Viewing her as a challenging child, he rationalizes his actions, influenced by the authoritarian and abusive upbringing he experienced.

William interprets Avery’s defiance as a direct assault on his authority and his role as her father. Lacking a positive father figure in his own life, he grapples with parenting a child with behavioral issues. Despite an initial internal understanding that physical punishment is inappropriate, he unthinkingly resorts to it in heated moments.

A significant point of tension arises from the imbalanced power dynamic between William and Avery. Erin, his wife, consistently defends Avery, mirroring William’s childhood experiences where his mother failed to protect him from abuse. This dynamic intensifies William’s desire for someone to stand up for him.

The strain in William and Erin’s relationship, particularly regarding Avery’s behavioral issues, leads William to cheat on Erin with Nora. Blaming Avery for the affair, he believes her behavior caused a rift between him and Erin. As Avery orchestrates her fake abduction, her goal is to make William suffer, successfully damaging his reputation. Detectives catch William in a web of lies, especially harmful given his standing as a respected doctor in Stanhope. Avery’s revelation of physical abuse further erodes William’s credibility.

Despite William’s insight into Avery’s manipulations, Erin dismisses his warnings, assuming he seeks to shift blame and make up for his own misdeeds. Avery strategically exploits the situation, discrediting William to manipulate her mother and gain approval for using the abduction story to achieve celebrity status. The complex dynamics within the Wooler family contribute significantly to the unfolding narrative.

Avery Wooler

Avery Wooler, a nine-year-old girl and the daughter of William and Erin Wooler, takes center stage in the story due to her mysterious disappearance following an incident of abuse by her father—a recurring issue in their troubled relationship. While initially portrayed as a victim, Avery reveals a darker side, employing manipulative tactics to control situations, casting her as a partial antagonist in the narrative. Her orchestration of her own abduction lacks consideration for its impact on others, showcasing a callous disregard for consequences.

Despite her young age, Avery exhibits traits reminiscent of a mental health condition, adept at deciphering adults’ motives and exploiting them for personal gain. As Marion lies dying, Avery’s true nature surfaces, revealing her capacity for violence, narcissism, and apathy. Paradoxically, she displays anxiety and upset feelings when confronted with false accusations against Ryan, exposing a more empathetic and caring side.

Avery’s parents, limited by their perspective, fail to grasp the extent of her condition, interpreting her actions as behavioral problems requiring correction. Diagnosed with ADHD and a learning disability, Avery’s school troubles stem from a lack of respect for authority. Both Erin and William struggle to parent her, with Erin displaying more patience than William. Despite some immaturity, Avery’s motives demonstrate a maturity beyond her years, as she orchestrates her abduction without considering Marion’s potential ulterior motives.

Her narcissistic tendencies become apparent as she pursues fame and publicity, irrespective of the impact on her family. Avery’s quest for attention clashes with Erin’s attempts to shield her daughter from the media frenzy. Ultimately, Erin reluctantly allows Avery to engage with the press, acknowledging her inability to control Avery’s actions.

While the novel concludes with a cliffhanger, Lapena hints that Casey, a character introduced earlier, may uncover Avery’s lies and expose her lack of innocence in the abduction saga. The complexity of Avery’s character adds layers to the story, revealing a mix of maturity, manipulation, and self-centeredness.

Nora Blanchard

Nora Blanchard, the clandestine love interest of William, emerges as a dynamically evolving character with rounded traits throughout the narrative. Endowed with both sensitivity and striking beauty, Nora becomes a focal point for envy, especially from Marion. Her internal struggle predominantly revolves around grappling with the guilt stemming from her affair with William.

Influenced by her husband Al’s religious convictions, Nora wrestles with the haunting fear of divine retribution for her transgressions. Despite her deep affection for William, she conscientiously terminates their affair, driven by maternal instincts to shield her children from the complexities of fragmented households. Nora, albeit inaccurately, interprets Avery’s disappearance as a divine reprisal for their actions, foreshadowing Marion’s subsequent attempt to inflict harm upon Avery in vengeance for the affair.

Her guilt intensifies, prompting Nora to contemplate deserving punishment, even entertaining thoughts of eternal damnation. Though Nora initially ends the affair with William to safeguard her children and maintain her marriage, she eventually liberates herself from Al’s abusive clutches. While her accusation of Al kidnapping Avery proves to be erroneous, Nora’s intuition about his perilous inclinations is validated when he contemplates causing her harm.

Nora’s perceptiveness shines through as she becomes the sole character unswayed by surprise when Marion endeavors to harm Avery. She astutely discerns Marion’s unspoken affection for William, revealing her acute understanding of complex human emotions. Despite empathizing with Marion’s sentiments, Nora refrains from resorting to violence.

Post her separation from Al, Nora contemplates reigniting her connection with William. However, societal pressures and the looming threat of gossip prompt her to forego this option. Nora steadfastly prioritizes shielding her children, recognizing the potential harm that gossip could inflict upon them if she were to marry William.

Which character did you like the most in the novel? Happy reading! ❤️