Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

Vera's best friend since childhood, Charlie, is dead. Vera could clear his name, but she can't tell anyone what happened. She's not even completely sure what happened, but she knows it wasn't his fault. Vera and Charlie hadn't been friends for months, after he did something unforgivable. But Vera can't get Charlie out of her head, and it's hard enough being in high school with no friends and working full time as well and having a father who wants to ignore anything bad. Months have passed now and Vera still hasn't told, and her own life isn't exactly going great either.

Thumbs up! Except for the end. I was trying to figure out what was going on the whole book, and I couldn't. It was all twisty and turny and building on itself and slowing giving you more information. I was dying to find out what had really happened to Charlie. And what about the animals? What had happened to the animals? There was such a build up, that when it was revealed what had actually happened my reaction was, "Oh. That's it? That's what happened? Well, OK." The book went to such a high place, that the big reveal felt like a bit of a letdown. Getting there was totally engaging, but the reveal of what actually happened wasn't enough to sustain it.

There's a very serious issue being examined in this book. Ignoring other people's pain. Either because you feel you have to protect yourself or your family and can't get involved, or because you feel like you can't possibly do anything to fix it. And when we live in a world where people get beaten to death while others look on without doing anything, this is something that needs to be talked about. I can't think of another YA book that deals with this.

Vera recalls from a very young age hearing Mr. Kahn, Charlie's father, who lived next door, beat his wife, and was told by her parents to ignore it, there was nothing they could do. This theme of ignoring all the bad things is heavy throughout the book, and how Vera ends up in the mess she does, because she keeps trying to ignore things and eventually she just can't anymore. She can't ignore her mother leaving, she can't ignore the people who are cruel to her, she can't ignore her friend's death, or how horribly he treated her before he died, and she can't ignore the path her own life is taking. She has to take action or else she will end up just like her mother, which she swore would never happen. Because it does have an effect on her, no matter how much she tried to pretend that everything is fine.

I wanted to shake Vera every now and then and say, "Sweetie! Snap out of it! Don't you SEE? Don't you see what you're doing to yourself? This is not what you want!" I cared about her, I wanted her to be OK.

Something else I liked about this book was that Vera's father was a real character. YA books so rarely have an adult as a developed character, it was nice to see. While I still didn't like Vera's father a whole lot by the end of the book, I was more OK with him than at the beginning, when he was just this guy who encouraged his daughter who was in high school to also work a full time job. But we really got see how he was doing the same thing as Vera, ignoring the hard things, and how that had affected him.

Also, I like the cover a lot. Hurray for not being of a girl's face! Or girl with her hair blowing in the wind!

Please Ignore Vera Dietz came out on October 12th.


  1. "Also, I like the cover a lot. Hurray for not being of a girl's face! Or girl with her hair blowing in the wind!"

    If only the national chain buyers felt the way you do! I am so sick of walking into bookstores and seeing only these girl-covered books. But that's what they stock. Which is why designers are often limited to what you see...girl faces and blowing hair. It's also why this book can't be bought in most chains.

    Sad, isn't it?

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  3. That is too bad that it isn't more widely available. I looked at the Barnes and Noble and Boarders near me, and while you can order it from their online site, you can't get it in store. I wonder though if it's just because of the cover?

  4. I have heard the Barnes and Noble buyer is partial to covers with teen girls on the front. But I don't think that should make creative teams at publishers bend to make all covers the same.

    I think with this book's rising popularity (it just made the Kirkus Best of 2010 list) the chains will eventually catch on. But if they don't, it's another reason to love independent bookstores. They stock so many more awesome books. Chain selection is getting lamer by the day.


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