- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Ember (April 10, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0375865640
- ISBN-13: 978-0375865640
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 154 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #263,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Please Ignore Vera Dietz Paperback – April 10, 2012
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Kirkus Reviews, starred review, September 15, 2010:
"A harrowing but ultimately redemptive tale of adolescent angst gone awry. Vera and Charlie are lifelong buddies whose relationship is sundered by high school and hormones; by the start of their senior year, the once-inseparable pair is estranged. In the aftermath of Charlie’s sudden death, Vera is set adrift by grief, guilt and the uncomfortable realization that the people closest to her are still, in crucial ways, strangers. As with King’s first novel, The Dust of 100 Dogs (2009), this is chilling and challenging stuff, but her prose here is richly detailed and wryly observant. The story unfolds through authentic dialogue and a nonlinear narrative that shifts fluidly among Vera’s present perspective, flashbacks that illuminate the tragedies she’s endured, brief and often humorous interpolations from “the dead kid,” Vera’s father and even the hilltop pagoda that overlooks their dead-end Pennsylvania town. The author depicts the journey to overcome a legacy of poverty, violence, addiction and ignorance as an arduous one, but Vera’s path glimmers with grace and hope." (Fiction. 14 & up)
Publishers Weekly, starred review, October 11, 2010:
"Beginning with the funeral of Charlie Kahn, high school senior Vera's neighbor and former best friend, this chilling and darkly comedic novel offers a gradual unfolding of secrets about the troubled teenagers, their families, and their town. Though Charlie's death hangs heavily over Vera, she has the road ahead mapped out: pay her way through community college with her job delivering pizza while living "cheap" in her father's house. But first she has to face her fractured relationship with her father, a recovering alcoholic who worries about her drinking; the absence of her mother, who left six years earlier; and the knowledge that she could clear Charlie's suspected guilt in a crime. Vera is the primary narrator, though her father, Charlie (posthumously), and even the town's landmark pagoda contribute interludes as King (The Dust of 100 Dogs) shows how shame and silence can have risky--sometimes deadly--consequences. The book is deeply suspenseful and profoundly human as Vera, haunted by memories of Charlie and how their friendship disintegrated, struggles to find the courage to combat destructive forces, save herself, and bring justice to light." Ages 13–up. (Oct.)
Booklist, starred review, November 15, 2010:
"High-school senior Vera never expects her ex-best friend, Charlie, to haunt her after he dies, begging 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 keep a secret about her family private. But when Charlie betrays her, it is 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 nothing compares to 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, which proves to be the most powerful redemption story of the many found in King’s arresting tale. Watching characters turn into the people they’ve long fought to avoid becoming is painful, but seeing them rise above it, reflect, and move on makes this title a worthy addition to any YA collection."
The Bulletin of the Center for Childrens Books, review, November 2010:
"The death of a best friend is hard enough, but for high-school senior Vera Dietz, her reaction to the death of Charlie Kahn is complicated by the fact that in the last few months he’d dumped her for the druggie pack at school, especially tough-girl Jenny. Flashbacks and compact commentary from Charlie himself, from Vera’s straitlaced dad, and from an omniscient local landmark interweave with Vera’s current narration, painting the picture of Vera and Charlie’s close friendship and its recent souring and revealing that Vera is the guilty and troubled possessor of many secrets about her late friend. King offers a perceptive exploration of a particular kind of friendship, one where one friend is undergoing agonies beyond the power of the other to help. Vera’s own troubles—her abandonment by her mother, the strictness and emotional evasion of her recovering-alcoholic father—get sympathetic treatment, but it’s clear that Vera is loved and cared for in a way that Charlie, stuck in a poisonous, abusive home, simply wasn’t. Yet it’s Vera’s life even more than Charlie’s that’s under scrutiny here, especially since Vera still has the possibility of making changes, both in her dealing with Charlie’s memory and in her ongoing relationships. The writing is emotional yet unfussy, and Vera’s tendency to see and perceive Charlie in every place and every thing is both effective and affecting. It’s not uncommon for the dysfunction in one friend’s life to start sowing seeds of doom for a friendship, and Vera’s poignant take on her double loss will resonate with many readers."
VOYA, review, November 2010:
"It is hard to describe how deeply affecting this story is. Vera and Charlie are both the victims of extremely bad parenting, but that only scratches the surface of the novel. The writing is phenomenal, the characters unforgettable. The narrative weaves through the past and present, mostly from Vera's viewpoint but with telling asides from other characters. There is so much in here for young people to think about, presented authentically and without filters: drinking and its consequences; the social hierarchy of high school; civic responsibilities; and teens' decisions to accept or reject what their parents pass down to them. It is a gut-wrenching tale about family, friendship, destiny, the meaning of words, and self-discovery. It will glow in the reader for a long time after the reading, just like the neon red pagoda that watches over Vera and her world."
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
A.S. King is the award-winning author of young adult books including Reality Boy, Ask the Passengers, Everybody Sees the Ants, and The Dust of 100 Dogs. She has visited hundreds of schools to talk about empowerment, self-reliance and self-awareness. Find more at www.as-king.com.
From the Hardcover edition.
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When Charlie dies and is blamed for arson, Vera is overwhelmed with guilt. Her major case of the coulda-woulda-shoulda's is silenced, however, by an upbringing that taught her to bottle it up and fly under the radar. No matter what she encounters she holds onto it which sometimes threatens her safety and causes her dad to further doubt her sense of responsibility.
Please Ignore Vera Dietz is a young adult novel that accurately portrays the struggles of friendship, community and loss. I felt the greatest lesson to be learned in the novel was to talk about things with those you love and trust and develop a sense of community. If you witness something bad, consider what would happen if you did nothing about it. Consider the lives that could be affected outside of your own. Just because you can walk or drive away from something safely doesn't mean the next person will be so lucky.
Read along and experience the story of Vera as she comes to terms with the past, the present and the future. Watch her develop a sense of responsibility and self-respect as she comes to terms with the loss of Charlie and begins to understand her dad better.
Check out my other reviews at http://booksavants.blogspot.com
I really enjoyed Vera’s voice, but I still feel like I don’t know anything, and I’m not really sure that the story itself made much sense. I lost all respect for Charlie as the story went on—he’s a real jerk—and I just can’t get over the end, which isn’t an end at all. Charlie is dead, but why? We’re given an idea of what might have happened, but I’m not sure I believe it, and therefore, everything is still up in the air in my mind, which is unfortunate because the whole reason I picked up this novel was due to the mystery. I wanted to know what happened to Charlie. Now, while I enjoyed the novel overall, Charlie’s character, his actions, and that of his friends, really left me with a sour taste in my mouth, which is fine, but it was the lack of a conclusion that really made me lose much of my gumption over the story. Maybe I missed some vital sentence somewhere that spelled it out for me, but since Vera claims to know the truth, I really expected the truth, and not just another speculation.
The book also focuses on other perspectives as well: we are treated with chapters from Charlie, an infamous Pagoda, and Vera's dad. We find regret from Charlie, cynicism from the Pagoda, and hypocrisy and love from Vera's father. The novel's setting is particularly interesting- a crossroads of Pennsylvania suburbia and rundown town.
I didn't really enjoy A.S. King's debut novel that much- I found the story hard to follow and the characters very unlikeable. However, King's eclectic style of storytelling works perfect here. Charlie and Vera are sort of the opposite of Augustus and Hazel- they have effed up family lives, they don't always think of others when they make choices, they are more flawed in a bad way, than a perfect way. In a way , they are lost souls trying to escape their destinies.
“Maybe the adults around me were too cynical and old to do anything to help innocent people like Mrs. Kahn or Charlie, or the black kids who were called ni**er at school, or the girls Tim Miller groped on the bus. Maybe they were numb enough to blame the system for things they were too lazy to change.”
Through the novel, Vera spends quite a lot of time talking about the things she wishes she could change. She wishes she could change the past- the people around her, her circumstances. Her whole arc- of stopping with her wishing and moving on to her doing was very inspiring. I know the focus on the book was Charlie- how hypnotic, interesting, and brilliant he was- but still, Vera was an awesome character. It's not everyday I find such an interesting protagonist.
“Then I think of Charlie and our first New Year’s apart, and how I miss him. I miss him so much, but it’s confusing, because I missed him long before he was dead, and that’s the bitch of it all. I missed him long before he was dead.”
A large part of the book, of course- focuses on Charlie and Vera. Charlie and Vera are a lot like Elliot and Angela from Mr. Robot. They have this chaotic, all consuming love- that's more like a mutual need than mutual adoration. The problem is that Charlie is cruel because that's all he's ever known, and Vera is so desperately trying not to be like her mother or father- so they are bound to fall apart. There relationship is multi-dimensional: built on stronger stuff than inside jokes and promises.
“Now it’s my turn. I am going to birth myself. I am going to be a better mother to me than she ever was. I’m going to stay faithful and stand up for myself. I am going to do more than send me fifty bucks on my birthday, and if I ever call myself on the phone, I’m going to act like I care, just a little, because I’m aware that I might need it. I will comb my own hair gently and never make myself get into bathwater that’s too hot. I am going to be the kind of mother who shows warmth.”
There is so much more to this book than unrequited love. Go out and read it. That's all I can say. Be amazed, cry even. Because I know I did after the end of this spectacular book