Vera’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.
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?
Edgy and gripping, Please Ignore Vera Dietz is an unforgettable novel: smart, funny, dramatic, and always surprising.
**Review specifically refers to audio version of the book listened to on a Playaway audio device**
Shockingly, this is my first A.S. King book even though I’ve seen so many rave reviews of her novels. It just took me a while to get around to finding the time to read one. I like her style – descriptive but not overly so. Great at setting a scene and good pacing.
Vera has a really good narrative voice and narrator Lynde Houck does a good job at giving her life. Her voice has a wry, dry style that really fits Vera’s dialogue and personality. I liked how there were other narrators for the other parts as well – Vera’s dad has his own narrator, Charlie has his own…even the pagoda has a narrator! I liked the little chapters thrown in from the pagoda’s point of view, I thought it was a really good idea to have this town fixture who is a silent observer weigh in on what it sees going on around him. As far as Charlie, I thought his narrator did a really good job (“A word from the dead kid…”) but by the end of the book I really had a pretty healthy dislike for Charlie himself. Screwed up kid he may have been, he was still kind of an asshat. And Jenny Flick was the worst and most psychotic mean girl ever ever EVAR and I was crossing my fingers and toes that she’d get hers by the end of the book.
Vera is the ultimate victim of her parents’ mistakes. Everything that she does is judged against what THEY did when they were her age, and everything they do (or at least everything her dad does, her mom has long since taken off) is an effort to make sure that she doesn’t repeat their mistakes. It made me glad that I had relatively normal parents, whatever normal is. It’s always seemed to me that the few kids I knew who had crazy helicopter parents who watched their kids’ every move like a hawk and were ultra strict were the ones who eventually ended up in trouble once they got their first taste of freedom away from the clutches of mommy and daddy, but maybe that’s just my own personal experience. Certainly, Vera has her share of issues likely brought on by her own mommy and daddy and it shows through in her behavior in certain situations.
King is really good at writing realistic dialogue. And not to sound like a crotchety old lady (again) but this line spoken by Ken Dietz totally made me nod my head in agreement: “Most people don’t think past themselves. I know that. But I want Vera to see other people, to respect other people, to realize that the whole world is not here for her. I want her to see her duty to the world, not the other way around.” Yes yes YES PLEASE. He’s even got a spoiled kid flowchart, which I couldn’t see because I was listening to the audio version of the book but I’m sure was totally awesome.
There was one thing that didn’t work for me and that was Vera’s poor decision making during a certain major event in the book, and her poor decision making that followed for a really long time afterward. It just seemed to me that a kid as sharp as Vera who was used to having making the right decision drilled into her head would be smarter about things, if not right at the time of the event(s) then afterward. I don’t want to say too much and spoil the book, but like I said, it was a major thing that resulted in some really major things and Vera was just dumb about it, to be blunt.