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About The Book

“Relationships and their dynamics play themselves out naturally and with satisfying complexity” (Kirkus Reviews) in this dramatic and powerful novel that explores the gray space between truth and perception.

Cheater. Traitor. Slut.

Quinn’s done the unthinkable: she kissed a guy who is not Carey, her boyfriend. And she got caught. Shunned by everyone she knows, Quinn loses her friends, her reputation, and her identity. Because Carey’s not just any guy—he’s a Marine who’s serving overseas, and beloved by everyone in their small, military town.

But Quinn didn’t cheat. She could clear her name, but that would mean revealing secrets she’s vowed to keep—secrets that aren’t hers to share. So she stays silent, and she waits for Carey to come home.

Then Carey goes MIA, and Quinn must decide how far she’ll go to protect her boyfriend…and her promise.

Reading Group Guide

A Reading Group Guide to

If I Lie
By Corrine Jackson

About the Book

Cheater. Traitor. Slut.

Quinn’s done the unthinkable: she kissed a guy who is not Carey, her boyfriend. And she got caught. Shunned by everyone she knows, Quinn loses her friends, her reputation, and her identity. Because Carey’s not just any guy—he’s a Marine who’s serving overseas, and he’s beloved by everyone in their small military town.

But Quinn didn’t cheat. She could clear her name, but that would mean revealing secrets she’s vowed to keep—secrets that aren’t hers to share. So she stays silent, and waits for Carey to come home.

Then Carey goes MIA, and Quinn must decide how far she’ll go to protect her boyfriend . . . and her promise.

Common Core Anchor Standards for Discussion Questions

Reading Literature: Key Ideas and Details
• Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence to support conclusions drawn from the text.

• Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

• Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

Reading Literature: Craft and Structure
• Interpret words and phrases as used in the text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

• Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text relate to each other and the whole.

• Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.

Reading Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
• Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

For more info on Common Core Standards, visit:

Discussion Questions

Chapter 1
1. How would you characterize Quinn’s father? Give examples from both the dialogue and the setting that support your answer.

2. Quinn says there has been a scandal, but does not tell you what it is. What does this add to the story?

3. Select a metaphor or simile in this chapter and explain how it is effective.

4. Who calls Quinn? Why do you think he doesn’t speak? Predict what role you think he will play in this story.

5. Where is the novel set? What makes it different from most towns?

6. Why does Quinn go by her last name?

7. Compare how Quinn’s father reacts to her mother’s leaving with how he treats Quinn.

Chapter 2
1. Quinn says, “Every thought I have wraps around Carey.” Read the paragraph before this line and analyze how the structure mirrors this statement.

2. What do Carey’s actions in regards to Mr. Winterburn show?

3. What is ironic about the phrase “Jamie’s red, white, and blue body?” How do you feel about Jamie in this chapter?

4. Quinn talks about being SOMEBODY versus NOBODY. What does she mean by this? How does Carey make her feel?

5. What does the incident in Bob’s Creperie show about Quinn’s friends? How do her reactions characterize her in your opinion?

6. What kind of friendship does Quinn seem to have with Nikki and Angel in the flashback?

7. How would you characterize Blake? Give details from the chapter to support your answer.

Chapter 3
1. What happened to Carey in Marjah?

2. What do we learn about Blake and Quinn in this chapter? Was this revelation foreshadowed in previous chapters? If so, where?

3. Quinn thinks, “We. Didn’t. Cheat.” Why do you think Blake isn’t aware of this? What is Quinn keeping from him?

4. What is the secret Quinn’s been keeping? How would you characterize her for keeping this a secret?

5. What does the flashback in this chapter reveal about Quinn’s mother? How do you think this affects Quinn in her decision to keep the secret?

6. Quinn says there are different types of silences. Compare them.

7. To what does Quinn compare different kinds of silences at the end of this chapter? Explain each of her comparisons.

Chapter 4
1. What does Quinn’s work at the VA hospital say about her?

2. George and the others call Quinn “Sophie” here. What does this represent to her?

3. Why does George’s support mean so much to Quinn?

Chapter 5
1. Why is school worse for Quinn in this chapter than it has been in recent months?

2. Why do you think Jamie is the only one not to ignore Quinn?

3. Knowing Carey’s secret, how do you feel about the Facebook incident?

4. Quinn says in this chapter that “Carey’s Quinn faltered.” What does she mean by this? How is Carey’s Quinn different from the true Quinn?

5. There are allusions to The Scarlet Letter and its protagonist Hester Prynne. If you have not read that book, look up a summary online. What is The Scarlet Letter about? How is Quinn like Hester? How is she different from Hester? What other imagery in this chapter hints at the A in The Scarlet Letter?

6. Quinn chooses not to tell Angel, even knowing she wouldn’t tell anyone. Why? What does this say about Quinn? About Angel? About the town?

Chapter 6
1. Quinn describes Blake’s words as a “dare and a plea.” How can they be both? What does he really want to happen? How do you know?

2. Why is Quinn angry at Blake for asking her to tell the secret?

3. Quinn quotes her father’s words about a moment defining a person. How do her choices in the past define her to the town? How does her choice to keep Carey’s secret define her in your eyes?

Chapter 7
1. Quinn compares “tricking the camera” to tricking people that she’s more than she really is. How does Quinn feel about herself? Given that she is the only person who knows the whole story, is this ironic? Why do you think she feels this way?

2. The number of crows Quinn sees is clearly symbolic here when Quinn recounts the nursery rhyme she knew as a child: “Seven for a secret never to be told.” How else can crows be symbolic for the secret? For Quinn herself?

3. Why doesn’t Angel go to the vigil? What do her actions in this scene say about her?

Chapter 8
1. What reasons does Quinn give for not noticing the clues that Carey was gay?

2. Carey had considered not telling Quinn the truth but chooses to do so. How do you feel about his keeping the secret? How do you feel about the fact he felt he had to hide it?

3. How does Quinn feel after the vigil? How does she deal with the bullying?

4. What is it like living in Sweethaven? What are the positive aspects of living there? What are the negative aspects?

Chapter 9
1. Why do you think Quinn’s father chose to have her work at the VA hospital as a punishment? What is ironic about this?

2. Uncle Eddy appears at the end of this chapter. How long has it been since Quinn has seen him? What do you predict will happen?

Chapter 10
1. “A red filter colors my vision,” Quinn says. What does this metaphor mean?

2. Trace the emotions that Quinn experiences as she sees her mother.

3. What promise does Quinn break to her mother in the flashback? Why does Quinn break it? How do you think this relates to her keeping her promise to Carey?

Chapter 11
1. What does Quinn compare her rage to when she says, “The rage, rekindled when my mother nonchalantly walked through the hospital, burns slow and bright. I think my skin glows with it”? How is the comparison an effective one?

2. Quinn says her clothing armors her. What kind of figurative language is this? How can clothing act as armor?

3. What double standard does Josh’s behavior reveal?

Chapter 12
1. Why is Blake at the dance? What does this say about him? About Angel?

2. Blake comes to Quinn’s rescue but it angers her further. Do you agree or disagree with her reaction?

3. Explain Blake’s anger in this scene. Who is he most angry at and why? Support your answer with evidence.

4. What does Carey’s letter to Quinn say about him as a person?

Chapter 13
1. In the flashback, who initiates the romance between Blake and Quinn? When does this happen and under what circumstances?

2. How are things different with Blake than they were with Carey? What do you think this reveals about Quinn’s feelings?

3. When does Carey ask Quinn to lie for him? Now that you know the sequence of events, how do you feel about Quinn’s agreeing to keep Carey’s secret?

Chapter 14
1. Quinn tells Uncle Eddy that someone objects to every name she has. What does each variation of her name (Sophie, Quinn, Q) represent to her and to others?

2. Do you think she will go to the meeting with her mother? Why or why not?

3. What revenge does Quinn take upon her father and why? Do you feel this is fair? Explain.

4. What brings Quinn and her father closer? Why do you think this happens?

Chapter 15
1. Why does Quinn’s mother compare eleven- year-old Quinn to her father in the flashback? Who do you think seventeen-year-old Quinn is most like and why?

2. Does Quinn speak to her mother at the cafe? Explain Quinn’s actions and her feelings when she sees her mom.

3. Why does Quinn feel she has betrayed her father?

Chapter 16
1. Mr. Horowitz points out Quinn’s passion for working with the military as if he didn’t expect it. Given the role the military has played in Quinn’s life, is her interest surprising? Explain.

2. Why does Quinn contradict herself when she thinks, “I hate them. I really wish I hated them” about her classmates? How does she truly feel about them?

3. Jamie’s comparison of Quinn to Quinn’s mother affects Quinn strongly. Why?

4. What do the flashbacks about Quinn, Nikki, and Angel reveal about Nikki even before the scandal? What do they reveal about Angel?

Chapter 17
1. Explain why Quinn feels sitting in the laundry room is ironic.

2. Explain Angel’s anger at Quinn. How is it different from most other people’s?

3. What favor did George ask Quinn to do for him? What significance do you think the name Quinn looks up has for George?

4. Quinn tells Blake that whatever damage she’s done, she made up for it and doesn’t owe anything to him. Do you agree? Explain.

Chapter 18
1. “Two guys and I love them both. Loyalty divides and subtracts me from both of them,” says Quinn about Carey and Blake. Explain this metaphor.

2. What does Blake say happened that kept him from confessing it was him in the picture? What promise did he make? How is this “ironic?”

3. Quinn says she and Blake each sacrificed for Carey. What do their actions say about them and their relationship with Carey?

Chapter 19
1. Who is Charlie Deacon? What is surprising about him? What does this say about George and about the military?

2. Brotherhood and sacrifice are usually viewed in a positive light, but the words seem to anger Quinn. How does she relate the word “sacrifice” to Carey? To her father?

3. Quinn makes an analogy between the military and “screwed up families” at the end of the chapter. How are they alike?

Chapter 20
1. The “secret” about Quinn being a vegetarian finally comes out. How does her father react? What does this say about their relationship and how it’s changed?

2. Who does Quinn run into at the cafe? How does she feel about the encounter? Are her feelings justified?

Chapter 21
1. How do Quinn’s visits with George provide an escape from her situation? What does he represent to her?

2. What is ironic about what Quinn says about her middle name, Topper?

3. Do you feel any sympathy for Quinn’s mother in this chapter? Why or why not?

4. “Your father said—” Quinn’s mother says before cutting herself off. What do you think she meant to say here?

Chapter 22
1. When Quinn tells Carey he broke her heart, he seems to disbelieve her. What might he suspect about Quinn’s feelings?

2. Why does Quinn compare her emotions to a kaleidoscope? How is this simile effective?

3. “It felt a little like someone had died,” Quinn says about her conversation with Carey. What are they mourning here? In what ways is it like a death?

Chapter 23
1. Quinn says she feels Carey betrayed his parents with his lack of trust. How can you betray someone by not trusting them? Explain.

2. What do Quinn’s actions toward Mrs. Breen in the garden store tell you about her? Do you respect Quinn for her behavior here?

3. Quinn compares her feelings about her mother and her feelings about Mrs. Breen. In what way are the situations similar in Quinn’s eyes? How are they different?

Chapter 24
1. Quinn says she wonders if her father will even know the favor he did her by making her work at the VA hospital. Do you think he knows? What do you think was his motivation for making her work there?

2. Who does George invite to Quinn’s party? What is his motivation? What does this tell you about George’s place in Quinn’s life?

3. Trace Quinn’s feelings from seeing her mother arrive at the party to the end of the chapter.

4. How do you think Quinn’s father feels when he sees Sophie?

Chapter 25
1. Who do you feel the most sympathy for when Quinn’s mother and father are fighting? Why?

2. In the flashback, Quinn’s father says her mother is making Quinn “just like her.” Why would this upset ten-year-old Quinn, who loved her mother? Why does the memory of it upset Quinn now?

3. George’s illness and her parents’ fighting make Quinn yell at both of her parents. Does she make any valid points or do you feel she’s being unfair? Explain.

Chapter 26
1. Explain what Quinn means when she says, “Maybe if I hadn’t covered for Carey, I would be stronger.” How has covering for Carey affected her?

2. In the flashback, what is it Carey says that makes Quinn cover for him, despite her anger? What does this say about her motivations?

3. Explain the circumstances that led to the photograph that started the scandal.

4. Blake apologizes when Quinn says she felt abandoned. Given the information he knew at the time, do you feel that he should apologize for this? Why or why not?

5. How do you feel about the reunion of Quinn and Blake? Do you think it will last? Why or why not?

Chapter 27
1. What does the gift Quinn’s father gives to her say about their relationship at this point? How has it evolved?

2. Quinn says the signs regarding George’s illness have been there all along. How else has she ignored warning signs in the past?

3. How long does George have left? How does he try to protect Quinn?

Chapter 28
1. Mr. Horowitz asks Jamie, “What is it you don’t like about these pictures, Miss Winterburn? Is it because they don’t show us as the best versions of ourselves?” Consider and explain the role photography plays in this novel.

2. How does Quinn handle Jamie in this chapter? What does this show about Quinn as a character?

3. Why is Blake upset when Quinn shows up at the garage? Do you feel he has a right to be upset?

4. What news do Blake and Quinn get in this chapter?

Chapter 29
1. What has happened to George? What does Quinn say she will finish for him and why?

2. Who fills Quinn in on Carey’s condition? What does this say about their relationship?

3. What was Quinn’s father’s defining moment? Does this revelation change how you feel about Sophie? Explain.

4. Quinn sees one crow outside the hospital window. What does this crow represent? How does it fit with the earlier crow symbolism?

5. How would you characterize Quinn’s actions toward George at the end of this chapter? What kind of person is she?

Chapter 30
1. What items does George leave to Quinn? What does this tell you about their relationship?

2. How does Quinn’s mother help her? How has their relationship changed?

3. Quinn confronts her father about his decision to keep Sophie away. How does he react? Do you agree or disagree with his reasoning?

4. Trace Quinn’s emotions during the phone call from Mr. Breen.

5. What is Quinn’s message to Carey? Do you respect Quinn for giving this message or not? Explain.

Chapter 31
1. Why does Quinn choose to move?

2. Quinn says about the words on her locker, “I no longer believe that they’re true.” What does this say about her feelings about herself both at the beginning of the book and now?

3. Why doesn’t Quinn feel vindicated when Carey’s secret is finally revealed to Blake?

4. Quinn corrects Blake and tells him her name is Sophie. Why is the name important to her?

5. How does Quinn defend Carey’s actions to Blake?

6. Why is Blake angry at both Quinn and Carey? Do you feel he is justified in his anger?

7. Explain Quinn’s choice regarding her relationship with Blake. What does she mean when she says she needs to “be first for once”? How has she put others first throughout this situation?

Chapter 32
1. Why does Quinn use quotes around the word “friends”? How does Quinn respond to their reactions regarding Carey’s secret?

2. Mrs. Breen calls to tell Quinn that Carey needs her and she goes to him. Relate this to the reason why she kept his secret.

3. What project are Quinn and her father working on together? What does this say about their relationship now?

4. Quinn says, “That girl died and Sophie was born out of the ashes.” What mythological creature is being alluded to in this quote? How does it suit Quinn?

5. Mrs. Breen reveals yet another lie that has been told. What was her motivation? How does Quinn react?

6. George’s words continue to advise Quinn after his death. What lessons did he teach her that are important now that she sees Carey?

7. How does Quinn act in this final defining moment? How would you define her as a character here at the end of her journey?

This guide was written by Laurie Wielenga, an English teacher and journalism advisor at Orange High School in Southern California.

This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.

About The Author

photo copyright Vania Stoyanova, 2011

Corrine Jackson lives in San Francisco, where she works at a top marketing agency, managing campaigns for several Fortune 500 clients. She has bachelor and master degrees in English, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University. Visit her at or on Twitter at @Cory_Jackson.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (August 28, 2012)
  • Length: 288 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781442440012
  • Grades: 9 and up
  • Ages: 14 - 99
  • Lexile ® HL700L The Lexile reading levels have been certified by the Lexile developer, MetaMetrics®

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