Thursday, March 27, 2014

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
I have heard so many good things about A.S. King, and I’ve been wanting to read this one for a long time. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was expecting; I guess I was thinking this would be a quirky YA book that dealt with some serious topics. But, this was so much above and beyond that.
It read a little bit like The Perks of Being Wallflower. The writing style was both abrupt and also beautiful. I remember starting the book, feeling frustrated because here was another YA main character unwilling to talk about the important things she knew with people who could help. However, as the book went on, this made more and more sense. Vera was taught at an early age to ignore the big stuff that was happening around her. And it got to the point where I just didn’t understand why everyone was surprised that she was ignoring what happened to her friend.
Normally when books have as many point of view switches as this one does, I get angry. Too many points of view can actually take me out of a good story. But, here, it worked extremely well. It added a super creepy, almost magical realism element to the book. For starters, one point of view belongs to the dead best friend. And he apparently can do real life things like call the police…And another point of view belongs to the setting where a lot of important elements of the plot take place. I’m not sure I’ve ever actually read a book from the setting’s point of view.
I also normally am not a fan of YA books that shift to the parent’s point of view, but I loved it in this book. I loved Vera’s dad. He so badly wanted Vera to be more than he was. And it was nice to see where he was coming from. I got why he was strict about her having a job. And I understood a lot of things about the family dynamic because of him. Also, I kept waiting for Vera to come clean to him, knowing that it would be okay because he loved her so much.
There was also a plethora of darkness here. On top of the teen death, the mystery of the death, and the secrets Vera won’t admit, there’s also plenty of drugs, drinking, sex, and all that jazz. But there’s also perverts who pay kids for their underwear, and husbands who abuse their wives, and people who go to their front door to pick up their pizza completely naked.  There’s all kinds of abuse in this novel. There’s bullying and sexual harassment. There’s also Nazis and racists and a lot of seriously terrible people.
There was one point when I had to step back, and ask, “Where does this poor girl live? Can I make sure to never step foot there?” Also, pizza delivery sounds like the worst and most dangerous job possible for a teenage girl. This was not the easiest book to read. It might be one of the darkest YA books I’ve ever come across. Nothing was sugar-coated or left out for a young audience. And no one, not even the main character, came off as anywhere close to perfect. I kept waiting for her to get into a drunk driving accident.
I was reading this book at the wrong time. Dealing with a sudden death in my immediate family was probably a terrible time to be reading about Vera dealing with the sudden death of a best friend. But like with me, it’s not the death that defined Vera or the story; it was everything else and all the other characters that made this so authentic and true. It also kind of ended with an empowered feeling. People can change. Not everything big has to be ignored. And the world doesn’t stop with each bad incident; it keeps going and you have to go with it.
I related to the book. I was empowered by it. And above all, I was impressed. The writing style was unique. I might not have needed such a dark story at the time that I read this, but it certainly was an interesting, dark story. I wasn’t shocked by how it turned out, but I also didn’t totally predict it all either. I give it a 9/10, and I look forward to reading more by this author.

1 comment:

  1. Nori! We agree on a contemporary book! ::high five::

    I loved this one, too. I own a paperback copy of Everybody Sees the Ants, and I can't wait until the pup gets a little bit bigger and stops chewing on everything so I can get back to reading my paperbacks, instead of just reading on my Kindle.