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Authors: Gary Paulsen

Liar, Liar

BOOK: Liar, Liar
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Alida’s Song • The Amazing Life of Birds • The Beet Fields
The Boy Who Owned the School
The Brian Books:
The River, Brian’s Winter, Brian’s Return
, and
Brian’s Hunt
Canyons • Caught by the Sea: My Life on Boats
The Cookcamp • The Crossing • Danger on Midnight River
Dogsong • Father Water, Mother Woods • The Glass Café
Guts: The True Stories Behind
the Brian Books
Harris and Me • Hatchet
The Haymeadow • How Angel Peterson Got His Name
The Island • Lawn Boy • Lawn Boy Returns
The Legend of Bass Reeves • Masters of Disaster
Molly McGinty Has a Really Good Day
The Monument • Mudshark • My Life in Dog Years
Nightjohn • The Night the White Deer Died
Puppies, Dogs, and Blue Northers
The Quilt • The Rifle
Sarny: A Life Remembered • The Schernoff Discoveries
Soldier’s Heart • The Time Hackers • The Transall Saga
Tucket’s Travels
(The Tucket’s West series, Books
One through Five)
The Voyage of the
• The White Fox Chronicles
The Winter Room • Woods Runner
Picture books, illustrated by Ruth Wright Paulsen
Canoe Days

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Text copyright © 2011 by Gary Paulsen

All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

Wendy Lamb Books and the colophon are trademarks of Random House, Inc.

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Paulsen, Gary.
    Liar, liar : the theory, practice, and destructive properties of deception / Gary Paulsen. — 1st ed.
    p. cm.
Summary: Fourteen-year-old Kevin is very good at lying and finds that doing so makes life easier, but when he finds himself in big trouble with his friends, family, and teachers, he must find a way to end his lies forever.
eISBN: 978-0-375-89868-6
[1. Honesty—Fiction. 2. Interpersonal relations—Fiction. 3. Middle schools— Fiction. 4. Schools—Fiction. 5. Family problems—Fiction. 6. Humorous stories.]
I. Title. II. Title: Theory, practice, and destructive properties of deception.
    PZ7.P2843Li 2011

Random House Children’s Books supports the First Amendment and celebrates the right to read.


This book is dedicated
with gratitude and respect
to Barbara Perris,
my longtime copy editor,
fiercely protective of my writing,
the elements of style and grammar,
and getting the details right


I’m the best liar you’ll ever meet.

I should be good; I’ve had a lot of practice. I’m only fourteen, but I’ve known for as long as I can remember that there will be times when I’m going to have to tell a lie. It’s a universal rule, a cosmic inevitability.

If you ask me, people who say honesty is the best policy are just terrible liars.

I’m good because I make it easy for people to believe me.

See, people only listen for what they want to hear, so I only tell them that.

I tell my parents what they expect—school went
well and I had a good day; yes, I did my homework; dinner was great; I’d love to drive 116 miles to go to a flea market and look for antique cookie jars and old political memorabilia with you and Dad this weekend; and no, I don’t have any dirty dishes under my bed.

I tell my friends versions of what they’ve already said to me—yeah, the new girl is hot; Coach is psychotic to have us run suicides in gym; I’m not gonna read the whole book either; the Cubs don’t have decent relief pitching but will probably clinch the division this year anyway.

I tell my teachers what they want me to say—yes, I understand the equation and how you solve it; I missed the foreshadowing until you pointed it out, but now it’s as clear as day; I really do have to use the bathroom and I don’t just want to walk around the halls during class wasting my time; no, I didn’t see who lobbed that apple across the cafeteria, nearly taking out the lunch lady’s eye (by the way, that apple missed her by a mile; everyone knows Neil Walker throws like a girl).

If you look at it from the right point of view, lying is just good manners.

Lying is my second language, a habit, a way of life.
It’s gotten so that it’s easier for me to lie than to tell the truth, because lying is all about common sense. Not to mention self-preservation.

I don’t think I’m good enough to beat a lie detector test, but most of the time I’ve pretty much got everyone I know right where I want them.

Lying makes my life and—let’s face it—everyone else’s, too, so much better. So really, I lie for the greater good. I’ve come to believe that it’s almost my duty. Like I’m some kind of superhero who uses his power for society. I like to think I’m doing my bit to make the world a better place—one lie at a time.

I’m not bragging or being conceited. I’m just making what they call objective observations.

Another observation is that I’ve never gotten in trouble for lying. Because I’m that good. I have a knack for knowing what needs to be said and done.

And if a little is good, then a lot is better, right?

I used to think like that. Before my life went from zero to crap in a week.

y midmorning Monday, I had Katie Knowles believing that I suffer from a terrible disease. One that modern medicine doesn’t recognize, can’t identify and is powerless to treat.

I told her that I have chronic, degenerative, relapsing-remitting inflammobetigoitis. Which doesn’t exist. I culled symptoms of mono, plantar warts, shingles, borderline personality disorder and a bladder infection, as well as listing a bunch of side effects from some TV ads for drugs.

Even for me, this was a whopper.

But I had to come down with whatchamacallit so that I wouldn’t have to team up with Katie for the
working-with-a-partner project in social studies this semester.

Cannot. Deal. With. Katie.

She’s some sort of mechanized humanoid, made up of spare computer parts, all the leafy green vegetables that no one ever eats and thesaurus pages. We’re only in eighth grade, but everyone knows she’s already picked out her first three college choices, her probable major and potential minor and the focus of her eventual graduate studies. To Katie, middle school is a waste of time, so she takes more classes than she needs to and does extra credit the way the rest of us drink water. She’s probably got enough credits already to graduate from high school.

The Friday before, we’d been assigned to be each other’s partner for our social studies independent study project: a ten-page paper and an oral presentation in which we would “illuminate some aspect of our government relevant to today’s young citizen.”

Thanks, Mr. Crosby, way to narrow the scope.

We wouldn’t have class for the next week so that we could go to the library or the computer lab to work on our projects. This was going to teach us about independence and self-determination. Or something like that; I wasn’t really listening.

I really dig Mr. Crosby; he’s pretty laid-back except when he starts talking about what he calls “government pork,” and then he gets all wild and upset. I must have irked him somehow to get assigned to Katie. My best friend, JonPaul, and our buddy Jay D., who are the biggest troublemakers this side of a prison riot, were project partners, and even the Bang Girls (I call them that because they’re BFFs who have identical haircuts with the exact same fringe hitting their eyeballs in a weird way that makes my eyes water if I look at them too long) had been paired. Before I could ask Crosby what I’d done to set him off, he’d announced, “Once partners are assigned, there will be no switching.”

BOOK: Liar, Liar
7.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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