Saturday, January 29, 2011

Book Review: Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

Title: Please Ignore Vera Dietz

Author: A.S. King

Pages: 336

Received from: library


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.

Vera delivers pizzas. She is also the neighbor of Charlie Kahn, son of a wife-beater and a doormat. She is the daughter of an ex-alcoholic and an ex-stripper. If she does not continue to deliver pizzas, the ex-alcoholic says, she, too, will become an ex-stripper. The ex-stripper is gone, left for Vegas. This is all anyone is in Vera Dietz; what they did and what they have done and how likely they are to do it again. Charlie's dad is a raging, violent assbag so Charlie will become one too; Vera's father was a drinker so Vera will become one too.

At a young age, she has to get a job to learn the value of money. She has to do well in school. She can not date, lest she become an unwed teenage whore like her mother. She can not drink, lest she become unrepentant drunk virtually disowned by her family, like her father. And she must, please, ignore what goes on next door, lest she make something like that her business. These are the lessons her well-meaning father has given her.

But Charlie Kahn lives next door. He and Vera are best friends. Vera loves him. Charlie loves her. But Vera has the slut-genes and Charlie has the asshole-genes so they can't. Eventually, shit happens in the form of bitchy juvenile delinquents and Charlie and Vera spend their last year hating each other, one running from their destiny and the other giving in to it. Charlie dies. Horrible accusations are placed at his grave. Vera knows differently, but she won't say anything; now Charlie won't leave her alone.

This is a sad book. I feel like that's the only description I can muster; it's sad, maybe even disturbing, in it's depiction of friends who hate each other and kids running from things that won't happen. It makes me sad just thinking about it, because you, as the reader, can easily map out everything Vera and Charlie did wrong but it wouldn't matter even if you could run up to the characters and slap them in the face; it's easy to tell a kid they won't be an alcoholic but if that's what they know, undeniably know, then it's just empty promises. King writes so perfectly in this thing. She depicts Vera's loneliness and fear in an often apathetic, matter-of-fact monotone, completely undramatic, completely realistic. She's crafted one of those "thinker" books, that you apply to real life and the world outside the Pagoda and that makes me happy, though I won't be thinking about it. I don't have the energy.

In the words of Book Smugglers' Ana, "please don’t ignore this gem of a book."

Rating: 10


Jessica B said...


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