Review: Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King


Title: Please Ignore Vera Dietz
Author: A.S. King
Publisher: Knopf Books
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Paperback, 326 Pages
Published October 2010

Summary: 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? 

I was introduced to A.S. King earlier this year when my school's summer reading assignment was one of her previous books, Ask the Passengers. (And you can read my review of that book by clicking here.) As soon as I finished that book, I realized that I'd found an author whose style I was really interested in, and I was immediately looking for more. It ended up working out that I also had to read Still Life With Tornado for one of my other classes, which instantly made me even more interested. And then I got to meet the author herself at several school events (she even was a guest in my YA Fiction Writing class!), and I immediately added the rest of her books to my TBR and made a promise to myself to start working through them, and here we are with Vera Dietz!

As the summary explains, Vera loses her best friend and her one love, Charlie -- and the way he dies is surrounded in mystery and all sorts of danger. So Vera is struggling to come to terms with that while also juggling a job, a failing social life, and a super protective father. With such a life on her plate, coming clean about what happened the night that Charlie died seemed like the last thing on her mind. But then the circumstances get hard to ignore, and Vera knows that she has to do something. The question is, what will she end up doing? 

What I really liked about this book was all the different perspectives that came into play. While the main narrator was Vera herself, you also got to hear from her father, Charlie, and even the inanimate pagoda that served as a beacon for their neighborhood. It was a really interesting experience to see how the consciences of all these different people and objects came together to form one cohesive story, and sometimes the commentaries ending up making me laugh out loud. They added a refreshing element to a story that was very heavy and contained a lot of dark, serious material, which I appreciated.

My favorite character in the entire story was the pagoda. Although those chapters were rare and brief, they were always funny and had little quips that seemed to coincide with Vera's thoughts. It was just a refreshing little twist to the story that kept me on my toes and made me smile throughout the entire narrative, even when there were parts that felt really heavy and upsetting. I love stories that work in perspectives of inanimate objects (such as the bench in Sandy Hall's A Little Something Different), so that was an added bonus to reading this book!

As for what I wasn't crazy about in this book, Charlie as a character pissed me off from start to finish. I'm not sure if it was intentional or not, but he definitely got on my nerves and I didn't really ever feel any sympathy for him, especially when he would be so mean to Vera. Maybe that's just me as a reader, and we are really meant to feel bad for him -- or maybe we aren't. Who knows? All I know is that I really disliked him as a person from start to finish, even when he was friends with Vera. Some of the things he did or said were pretty horrible and then Vera let him continue without apologizing, and while I know the background for why she may have done so, it still made it tough to swallow at times. But hey, that's just me.

(Minor spoilers ahead. Please skip to the next paragraph if you haven't read the book yet!) When the ending of this book is revealed to the reader, it's safe to say that I was a little bit shocked. Burning down a pet store? That's pretty screwed up -- but perhaps more screwed up than that was Jenny Flick herself. I was kind of hoping we'd get to see what would become of her once the truth was out, and even though A.S. King intentionally left that part of the story out, I'm still itching to know. I'm super impatient like that!

Overall, Please Ignore Vera Dietz was a good read about a girl struggling to find herself while also attempting to make amends with her past. It was super easy to get through and I ended up breezing through this book in just a few days because I kept wanting to read the next chapter and I couldn't put it down. While this certainly wasn't my favorite of A.S. King's books, that does not in any way mean that it's bad -- you should totally check it out and give it a try, because you never know what book may end up being your cup of tea! This wasn't a bad book by any means -- it just didn't leave me shocked and awed the way that some of her other books have before. But overall, this was a very good book, and I'm really glad that I got the chance to read it. :-)

Hats off to another good read from A.S. King -- I'm so glad that I found a whole new section of books to work my way through!

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