Please Ignore Vera Dietz
A. S. King
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Vera’s best friend Charlie is dead, but Vera still sees him everywhere. Thousands of Charlies follow her around at the Pizza Pagoda where she works. They crowd her room at night. Vera knows the Charlies want her to clear his name, but just as life with Charlie was complicated and full of secrets, Charlie’s death is not easily navigated. Instead, Vera takes swigs from the vodka bottle under her car seat between pizza deliver runs and tries to keep her head down as she finishes her senior year of high school. Will Vera find the strength to forgive Charlie? Will that provide her with the courage to go public with the details of his death?
Please Ignore Vera Dietz has been on my TBR pile for a loooong time. In fact, I’ve been meaning to read it since before it was named a Printz Honor title in January, although the Printz medal on the cover bumped it up a few spots on my list. I actually started it a couple of times but couldn’t get into/had to return to the library to avoid racking up extensive overdue fines. I’m so glad I finally gave it another go, because it’s excellent. The alternating points of view could have come off as cliched or precious, especially given that one of “characters” is a pagoda and another one is dead. Instead, in King’s hands, they intertwine, supporting and providing a important alternative to Vera’s perspective. Vera herself is also a great character – lonely, sad, angry, confused, cynical, but with enough love and teenaged idealism in her to overcome all those other things. Told partially in flashback, it’s insightful and funny but painfully sad look at a friendship, families, and two very damaged people. Highly recommended, but definitely for older teens/adults.