Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
High school is never easy. It’s even harder when you’re trying to keep your family secrets from getting out and feelings start to get in between you and your best friend. To make matters worse, Vera’s best friend is not her best friend any more. He’s also dead. She struggles to adjust and the book slowly unravels the events leading up to Charlie’s death. The pagoda on a hill, Vera’s dad, and Charlie all also have moments in the narration – which gave greater depth and emotion to Vera’s story. (Trigger warning: domestic and child abuse are both sort of central to the book, although nothing happens “on screen.”)
First, Vera has feelings for her childhood best friend and, later, her coworker comes into the picture. Both relationships were sweet and rang true.
There were a couple of single comments that felt off to me. Examples include “the Mexican neighborhood” and the jockey yard ornaments, I think these do build the environment (small town Pennsylvania), but they still come off poorly.
Overall, I really like Vera’s voice and her interaction with her dad. He did his best to raise her while dealing with A LOT of baggage. The story unfolds slowly and giving just enough pieces to keep you turning pages.
Ken – He’s admirable as a person – recovering alcoholic with his own business – while also being an admirable father. He faces life with humor and does the best he can to look at everything positively. I liked the brief interludes in Vera’s narrative where we heard Ken’s side of things – even if his self help mottos were a little trite.
Two lines really capture Vera’s voice and story.
“Pretty hot question for eighth graders, if you ask me, but I was excited by it, too, because I liked when teachers asked hard questions. It’s safe to say that when all other students in the class said “Ugghhh!” it was an assignment I was going to enjoy. But this time, there was a problem. I couldn’t picture Romeo and Juliet without picturing Charlie and me.”
“It didn’t work. It didn’t work because I knew not to give the best of myself to the worst of people.”
Is this worth a book hangover?
Yes. The story had enough romance and mystery to keep me turning pages. I wanted to know the truth about Charlie as much as I wanted to know how Vera turned out, too.
Fun Author Fact
King once ran away with the circus and commandeered a bus at age 9.
Read this next:
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero is a different take on the high school experience.
Jess loves SFF – old and new school – and is learning to appreciate the more lovey-dovey YA under the careful tutelage of Anisha’s recommendations.