Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King
Release Date: October 2010
Source: Library, Own
Vera's spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she's kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything. So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to? Edgy and gripping, Please Ignore Vera Dietz is an unforgettable novel: smart, funny, dramatic, and always surprising.From the Hardcover edition.
The Short of It: This is one of those books that immediately after hearing about, I pre-ordered on my nook. But when my libray’s copy came in first, I snagged it there. I’m rarely wrong when I know a book that is perfectly up my alley — and I wasn’t wrong about this one.
Plot: Can we talk about just how many stories are within the pages of this book? I feel like every character had a distinctly real and integrated story into the overall plot. I loved the over-arcing theme of grief, of decision-making, of overcoming obstacles…basically I loved this book and struggle to really describe the plot articulately.
Characters: Vera Dietz, I will never be able to ignore you. Also, I want to be friends, so give me a call? Seriously, Vera is such a supremely real character that I would not be the least bit surprised to order a pizza and have her turn up as my delivery driver. Her conflicts are familiar, even though I have never had a drinking problem or a romance with an older guy or a best friend haunting me. Don’t get me wrong, even though I really want to hang out with Vera, she is a very flawed character. But what makes Vera endearing and unforgettable is the journey that she takes throughout the book and the amount of growth that she accomplishes before the end of the book. Vera, I will keep rooting for you!
And I can’t end the characters section without talking about Vera’s father Ken, whom I came to adore. He, like Vera, is still dealing with the grief of his wife leaving him and it causes him to make a lot of bad decisions. (And a lot of bad parenting decisions especially.) But what I really loved about Ken was that he cares about Vera deeply and tried to do right by her — a portrayal of parents that isn’t often found in YA literature. (I’m so sick of evil parents or perfect friendship awesome parents.)
Romance: I was not particularly rooting for Vera’s choice in romantic partnerships, her delivery co-worker. But I will say that there were a lot of moments where I was rooting for Vera/Charlie even though it’s completely futile with Charlie being all dead and such.
Writing: There is a reason that this book won the Printz Honor, folks! The writing is chock full of awesomeness. Passages that make your heart ache and long for pickles (readers will understand!) all the way to vocab words giving new meaning to plot. And the dry, black humor! Oh my gosh. I know that I said that this book was a tear jerker (and it was), but there were also parts where I guffawed out loud. Be prepared for both!
Librarian-Mode: This will be a big hit with your contemporary issue readers. Give it to teens who loved John Green, Ellen Hopkins, Laurie Halse Anderson. But I also think that this one will go over well with your mystery readers. There is a lot of adult situations though, so I definitely recommend it for more mature YA readers. This will not work for my 13-year-old cousin, for instance. At least not for a few more years. My favorite book to pair this one with? Probably “Looking for Alaska.”