From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up–Vera Dietz and her troubled neighbor, Charlie, were best friends since childhood until they started to fall for one another junior year and everything broke apart. Evil Jenny Flick decides that she wants Charlie and that Vera is in the way. When Jenny offers Charlie oral sex and he refuses, she broadcasts his secret about his father's domestic abuse to the whole school and blames Vera. In “retaliation,” Charlie reveals the fact that Vera's mother was a stripper before she deserted the family and then starts a perilous relationship with Jenny. In chapters that alternate scenes in the present with “history,” plus various points of view, Vera's story begins at Charlie's funeral where she hides the truth about Jenny's part in his death. It seesaws through her full-time job delivering pizzas while maintaining “A” grades, her upsetting relationship with Charlie, her conflicts with Jenny as well as her father, her romance with a 23-year-old coworker, and other complications. This oddly compelling page-turner is unfortunately rather flawed. When circumstances call for Vera to end her heavy drinking, she surprisingly just stops. Charlie's ghostly presence manifests itself through hard-to-imagine replications. The perspectives of Vera's father, dead Charlie, and the pagoda atop the town (yes, the pagoda speaks) minimally click. Vera's father's “flow charts” about dealing with life circumstances seem out of place. Yet, Vera is a strong character whom readers will root for throughout her ups and downs. Ultimately, this will be read by teens who like edgy contemporary books dealing with untimely teen death, such as Brooke Taylor's Undone (Walker, 2008) or Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why (Razorbill, 2007).–Diane P. Tuccillo, Poudre River Public Library District, Fort Collins, CO. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* High-school senior Vera never expects her ex-best friend, Charlie, to haunt her after he dies and beg her to clear his name of a horrible accusation surrounding his death. But does Vera want to help him after what he did to her? Charlie’s risky, compulsive behavior and brand-new bad-news pals proved to be his undoing, while Vera’s mantra was always Please Ignore Vera Dietz, as she strives, with Charlie’s help, to maintain a low profile and keep her family life private. But after Charlie betrayed her, it became impossible to fend off her classmates’ cruel attacks or isolate herself any longer. Vera’s struggle to put Charlie and his besmirched name behind her are at the crux of this witty, thought-provoking novel, but most memorable is the gorgeous unfurling of Vera’s relationship with her father. Chapters titled A Brief Word from Ken Dietz (Vera’s Dad) are surprising, heartfelt, and tragic; it’s through Ken that readers see how quickly alcohol and compromised decision making are destroying Vera’s carefully constructed existence. Father and daughter wade gingerly through long-concealed emotions about Vera’s mother’s leaving the family, creating the most powerful redemption story of the many found in King’s arresting tale. Although King’s characters turn into the people they’ve long fought to avoid becoming, they ultimately rise above their challenges, reflect, and move on. A worthy, well-crafted addition to any YA collection. Grades 10-12. --Courtney Jones