By Tina Vasquez, for The Children’s Book Review
Published: February 9, 2011
By A.S. King
Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Hardcover: 323 pages
Publisher: Knopf (October 2010)
Award(s): Printz Honor Book, 2011
Vera Dietz is a quick-witted, intelligent, responsible, kind—essentially, she’s every parent’s dream, except for the fact that she’s linked to the murder of her best friend Charlie and is subsisting on a steady diet of vodka and fast food. Also, she may be going crazy or Charlie may be haunting her, begging her to clear his name. Either way, Vera’s senior year is shaping up to be a doozy.
Growing up, Vera spent every day with Charlie; he was her closest confidante and they truly needed each other. Vera was being raised by her dad, who was obsessed with responsibility, which is why she was forced to get a job as a “pizza delivery technician.” Vera’s dad may need her more than she needs him. After her mother abandoned them, Vera picked up the pieces. Charlie was living in his own house of horrors, the brutal, often physically violent fights between his parents were common knowledge, but rarely spoken of.
Through all of this Charlie and Vera forged a deep bond that was a lot like friendship and a lot like falling in love, but as they got older Charlie withdrew from Vera, becoming secretive and spending a great deal of his time with “detentionheads” he and Vera used to make fun of. Their relationship began to fall apart just as they needed each other most, but it wasn’t because of a lack of love. As we learn in Please Ignore Vera Dietz, sometimes love isn’t enough to keep two people together or to keep one from making bad choices.
A.S. King’s writing is punchy and doesn’t talk down to young readers. Each character is well-rounded, providing just enough insight into their inner workings, without giving too much away too soon. Everyone seems slightly damaged in a way that is realistic, meaning young readers will most likely see themselves, their friends, or their family members reflected in each of the characters.
Whether high school is a distant memory or it’s on the agenda for tomorrow, readers both young and old will find themselves getting sucked into King’s latest. It may be part murder mystery, part high school drama, but it’s also one good read.
Add this book to your collection: Please Ignore Vera Dietz
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