Synopsis In a Nutshell…
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.
AS King is a genius. I had an inkling of suspicion last year, after finishing Everyone Sees the Ants, but this just confirms it. The writings of King are one every author should aspire to channel, by extension making Please Ignore Vera Dietz must read fiction across the board. This is especially true in the land of YA books, where too many topics have been pulverized to drivel. I thank Vera Dietz for being a rare breath of fresh air, one that reminds me why so many writers have tried their hand at aptly conveying death and grief. Because this book, it moved me. With a cast of characters so dynamic, so nuanced that I couldn’t look away, I was immediately pulled into the story. And this is all because of Vera and Charlie. The two represent the best kind of fictional beings to read about, as their struggle is near universal in its depth and complexity. Nothing about them is perfect, nor does anything in their life come easy, but it’s impossible for King’s portrayal of them not to make you “feel the feels”. Though I hate that expression, nothing else can summarize how King so deftly emulates reality. It’s a rare talent, breathing life into ink, and this book implements it to perfection. But moving back to our protagonists, let me describe the one of a kind creature heretofore known as Vera Dietz. Safe to say I loved her to pieces. Which is good, when a story hinges so entirely on you going the distance with its protagonist. I related to her so fully, and took her triumphs and shortcomings as my own. Even at her lowest, nastiest, most near sighted point (and trust me, the “rock bottoms” occur in abundance) I still needed to see her get up fighting. You could say this is by virtue of her slick one liners and witty internal monologues, but really that’s just the icing on the cake. What really makes her so one of a kind is the journey we go on together. Never has a roller coaster analogy been so needed in a book review- because that’s exactly what this was. Summits and crests and all manners of growth. Things were also aided along by the inclusion of Vera’s father, Ken. So often is the missing parent trope included in YA, that I would have been happy with his presence irregardless. King however isn’t satisfied with “good enough”, and truly went above and beyond with the chapters he narrated. Their sparse, but written so perfectly that I can’t imagine the book without him. And finally, let’s discuss the root of this book’s conflict; the emotionally fraught monster Charlie. In many respects he’s the star of the show, hard to love but impossible to hate. We know of him only in death, and get his perspective only in the “chapters from a dead kid”. But when you have an author such as King, one who never underestimates her readers intelligence, a lot can be said between the lines. We feel so much of his internal hate, and the emotional turmoil that caused it, despite it never being explicitly stated. With that in mind, King also raises a powerful voice for the topic of domestic abuse. In just the few pages that linger on Charlie’s home life, I felt King conveyed more raw emotion than entire books dedicated to the issue do. And that’s really the catalyst of my affection for Please Ignore Vera Dietz. It’s ability to be about so many things beyond first glance; from the flawlessly incorporated magical realism, to the witty chapter set up, to the intrepid discussion of destiny…and whether or not we can run from it. It’s layered in every sense of the word, and fills each page with a sucker punch of insight. Just read it!
-Keep Calm and Read On