Title: Please Ignore Vera DietzVera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.
Author: A.S. King
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release date: October 12, 2010
So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?
This is the story of Vera Dietz, an 18-year-old high school student who works at a pizza parlour whose best friend died recently. The story starts off at Charlie's funeral, and following this, the book jumps back and forth between flashbacks and the present. Vera is a responsible, smart student who would rather fade into the back of huge crowds; another invisible face. This is thanks to her mother, who had abandoned her a few years back and the fear of growing up and essentially becoming her. Charlie, on the other hand, had a rough family life and began slipping away from her as they grew. He fell into a crowd made up of burnouts and "detentionheads", as they were called, eventually leaving Vera behind. As different as they were, both kids have been through so much crap that the outpouring of sympathy I felt for them went through the roof.I really didn't know what to expect when I first started reading this book. There was so much going on in the first chapter already, I was kind of thrown off. One thing is for sure, though: Vera's voice was really engaging and was the sole thing that kept me reading. King did an amazing job with Vera's personality and putting it into words; she's incredibly genuine and relatable. The way she describes the people and situations around her, and just the way she talks is funny, witty, and so the way a teenager would.
There's also the complication of her relationship with Charlie. They were on the outs when he died, and the cause of his death stays a mystery throughout the first part of the book. Knowing this and reading her memories with Charlie during their better times was absolutely heartbreaking. There were times where I was frustrated with the way Vera acted, and times where I detested Charlie. But then it turns around and I like them both, or one more than the other. I wanted their friendship to be mended, then there were moments where I was hoping Vera would get him back for some of the stuff he did. This book was just a rollercoaster, and I loved it.
Another reason I really liked this was Vera's relationship with her dad. They're both clearly suffering the aftermath of her mom leaving, albeit in different ways. Her father, Ken, is doing his absolute best to keep Vera from making the same mistakes he did when he was younger, and even though Vera is doing the same in terms of her mother, they both clash horribly. Ken's got these flow charts going on in the book that I found hilarious. Plus, a pagoda gets its own POV, which is absolutely ingenious. Another thing that I learned from this book is that we should definitely appreciate our pizza delivery person technician more.
Be warned that this book has a lot of themes better suited for an older YA audience. There's swearing, drug use, abuse, and even a smidge of unbelievably creepy paedophilia. That's probably where it lost that half star for me. Not that I'm uncomfortable reading about all of it -- it was just one after the other. At times I was a little incredulous that one person could go through all of that before they even hit the legal age. But who am I to judge? Overlooking that, though, it's a book about relationships: Love, friendship, family, schoolmates, and work all wrapped up in this little gem of a book.
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