Saturday, January 04, 2014
REVIEW: Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
This book had kind of an unusual structure to it. It is mostly told from Vera's perspective but occasionally the story is told from Vera's father, and Charlie Kahn Vera's best friend who has died before the beginning of the story. At times, bizarrely, we also get the perspective of a local landmark (a pagoda). It is also not told in a linear fashion ... as well as the present day, we also see flashbacks to key moments in Vera and Charlie's friendship and within Vera's family.
Despite the multiple POVs and the flashbacks, Please Ignore Vera Dietz is not at all confusing to read. In fact, each jump in perspective and flashback adds such a wonderful, interesting and emotional layer to the story. I love the slow build-up and how emotionally invested I became in Vera's life and in her relationship with Charlie. By the last third of the book, I was practically in tears at every swipe of the Kindle pages!
Vera Dietz is a senior in high school and works full-time as a pizza delivery technician. In between deliveries, she takes large gulps of alcohol to get her through the day. This is because she is still grieving over the death of her former-best friend, Charlie Kahn. The main crux of the story is about Vera holding onto Charlie's secrets - especially that of the events leading up to his death - and for this reason she is haunted by visions of him.
Like I said, I really loved this build-up of Vera and Charlie's relationship. They were childhood friends and shared many things but we know right from the outset of this book that something happened between them that meant that at the time of Charlie's death, they were no longer friends. It seems unlikely when you read about their adventures together, building a tree house together and flying paper aeroplanes in the pagoda. I found theirs to be a friendship that was absolutely heartbreaking as they both grow up and make mistakes. Not only do we get to see Vera's family history which helps shape her into who she is but we also see a lot of what shapes Charlie into the person he was as well. Both Vera and Charlie are both really complex and flawed characters that I was able to connect with completely.
Please Ignore Vera Dietz was an amazing book. It was very emotional and moving. A book about friendship and grief and mistakes and secrets. I really recommend it!