Summary: Is it okay to hate a dead kid?
Even if I loved him once?
Even if he was my best friend?
Is it okay to hate him for being dead?
Vera's spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the yeas she's kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.
So when Charlie does 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. -- Knopf
Last year, I had the pleasure of meeting author A.S. King at the 2009 Lititz Kidlit Festival. Amy is truly one of a kind and I couldn't help but adore her! In preparation for the panel I moderated, I read her YA novel THE DUST OF 100 DOGS; and let me tell you...it's like nothing I've ever read. It has time travel, pirates, and a curse; and it's really, really good!
So for a year now, I've been anxiously awaiting her next book -- PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ. My friends at Aaron's Books were gracious enough to share with me their very hard-to-get ARC, and I can't thank them enough. PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ is another very special novel, and I absolutely loved it! I have to warn you though, this book is not always an easy read and it will make you uncomfortable. And it's definitely not for tweens or very young teens.
Once again, Amy has written a book that is unlike anything I've ever read. The storyline in itself is rather unique, but it's her presentation of the story that really sets this novel apart! The book is written mainly in the first person voice of Vera; however, there are chapters told by her dead friend Charlie, Vera's father, and even the town's major landmark -- the pagoda. In addition, the story unfolds not in a linear fashion, but rather goes back and forth between present day and the past. But even the past events aren't linear. It sounds confusing, but I promise it's not!
At the heart of this story is Vera Dietz. She is truly an unforgettable character who has experienced so much pain in her young life that my heart just broke for her! Her mother took off when she was young and her dad really did the best he could with a young daughter. Then she lost the love of her life Charlie -- first she lost his friendship which was painful enough for Vera, but then she lost him forever when he died. There is no doubt that Vera had a tough life and was forced to grow up so quickly; however, I think so much of her pain was also because she internalized so much and kept so many secrets.
Throughout the course of this novel, the reader really gets to know (and love) Vera. The author does a remarkable job of bringing Vera to life and making her character so very real and honest. In many ways, this book actually was a coming-of-age story about Vera. Vera has to come to terms with her friend's death (and the circumstances surrounding it) while also trying to accept her relationships (or lack thereof) with her father and her mother. All of this is in addition to the "normal" problems that teens face everyday with balancing work with school and friends.
I barely know where to begin with raving about Amy's writing! Trust me... she's really a terrific storyteller, but her prose is also beautiful. She's a great person, a mom of two girls, and also a poet -- she does it all! I just love talking with her because she sees things in such a unique way (and her enthusiasm is just infectious!) I think the way her brain works is apparent in both of her novels that I've read because they are really smart and edgy, and yet so insightful. I think she's going to be a major player in YA fiction in the upcoming years.
PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ would be a fantastic book club pick for teens or even mother daughter book clubs. There are so many relevant issues to today's teenagers that warrant further discussion including first love, peer pressure, drinking, drugs, grief, loss, secrets, and bullying. I think this novel is ideal for opening the lines of discussion on some very serious (yet very real) issues.
Needless to say, I highly recommend PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ. It's a funny, dark novel for teens that is highly entertaining but one that will also make you really think.
Make sure you come back on Friday when I will be participating in the "Vera Dietz Pizza Tour." A.S. King will be stopping by and answering a few of my questions.