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Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
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Please Ignore Vera Dietz (2010)

by A.S. King (Author)

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6856813,926 (4.13)36
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Eighteen-year-old Vera Dietz had been best friends with her next-door neighbor, Charlie, for most of their lives. Then Charlie betrayed her. And then he died. Vera knows something about the night he died, something that would clear his name of a terrible accusation. But she doesn't want to tell.

I have some mixed feelings about this one. On the plus side, it's a very fast read, entertainingly written, with some clever narrative quirks. Some of Vera's teenage angst feels almost painfully believable. And the story definitely held my attention, as I kept turning pages waiting to find out exactly what had happened between Vera and Charlie and what it was she wasn't telling.

But I also kept tripping up on little details that just didn't feel right. (For example: Vera talks a lot about her Vocabulary class, which seems to consist entirely of memorizing short lists of words and using them in sentences. Which... huh? Why is a high school senior doing this kind of elementary school exercise? And how the heck do you get an entire class out of that? It's amazing how how thoroughly this one stupid thing threw me right out of the story. Repeatedly.) It also has almost a little too much of an Afterschool Special kind of feel to it, seeming almost to go down a checklist of Important Teen Issues: abusive relationships, alcoholism, teen pregnancy, illiteracy, sexual predators, parental abandonment, falling in with the wrong crowd... It's not preachy, exactly, but it comes pretty close to it, especially with the "your parents really are hard on you because they love you" and "don't look the other way when something is wrong" messages. ( )
  bragan | Aug 28, 2014 |
Vera Dietz's ex-best friend Charlie died about nine months ago. Six months before that was when they went from being best friends to ex-best friends. But Charlie left something behind that he wants Vera to find, and he will haunt her until she does it.

Vera narrates most of the book, but there are also short sections narrated by Charlie's ghost, Vera's father Ken, and the Pagoda, a building that sits at the top of a hill overlooking the city. (The Pagoda, for the record, is strongly anti-littering.)

Vera's mother left when she was twelve. That's bad enough in itself, but Vera also learned that her mother used to be a stripper. When she enters high school, her goal is to keep this off the radar, sending out a silent "PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ" signal to keep herself invisible. Meanwhile, she works as a pizza delivery technician to save money for college; her recovered-alcoholic accountant father believes in the value of hard work.

Vera is independent, alone, and lonely. Her father avoids talking about difficult subjects and tells Vera to ignore some of the things that bother her, suggesting work as a solution. However, he's one of the deepest parent characters I've seen in a YA novel: though he avoids some things, he has made a series of improvements in his life, including some difficult changes, and he has been an attentive parent to Vera in her mother's absence. His warnings to Vera (especially about alcohol, and drinking and driving) come from a good place, but he's unable to help her deal with Charlie's death.

Vera eventually does that on her own, summoning the strength to act and bringing her father with her to help clear Charlie's name.

Quotes

It seems like the older people get, the more shit they ignore. Or, like Dad, they pay attention to stuff that distracts them from the more important things that they're ignoring....But there's something about telling other people what to ignore that just doesn't work for me. Especially things we shouldn't be ignoring....If we're supposed to ignore everything that's wrong with our lives, then I can't see how we'll ever make things right. (43-44)

There are kids in my class who can't locate Florida on a map and they're going to get the same diploma I'm going to get. (71)

"Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?" (Abraham Lincoln said that.) (84)

I miss him so much, but it's confusing, because I missed him long before he was dead, and that's the bitch of it all. I missed him long before he was dead. (88)

Maybe the adults around me were too cynical and old to do anything to help innocent people like Mrs. Kahn or Charlie, or the black kids who were called nigger at school, or the girls Tim Miller groped on the bus. Maybe they were numb enough to blame the system for things they were too lazy to change. (109)

I realize this is the first time I've been in a boy's - uh - man's car and been out of control of a situation. I guess, technically, this is the first time I've been on a real date, too. (114)

He was so confident about this - about this trust - that I saw clearly the hole in Charlie's process. What does a boy who's witnessed what Charlie's witnessed know about trust? How does a boy like that discern right from wrong? (138)

...I knew not to give the best of myself to the worst of people. (197)

I wonder if I'd called the police back when I was ten or thirteen or fifteen, would Charlie be alive now. I regret it. I regret every minute I lived keeping that secret. I regret every time I didn't talk to Charlie about it. I regret having parents who couldn't try to help or seem to care. I regret not being reason enough to make them care more. I regret never saying what I was thinking... (264)

[Vera's mom] called it baggage. "You're scared to open your suitcase and see what your mother packed." ...I see Vera doing this now...I want to tell her it's no use hiding. I want to tell her that the only thing you get from walling yourself off is empty. (Ken Dietz, 273)

I have my fingers on the switch, but have lived a lifetime ignoring the control I have over my own world. (279)

On one hand, it's nice on the other side. Secrets don't exist. There's nothing to ignore, and no destiny. On the other hand, the same thing is possible in life, if only we'd start paying attention to the right stuff. (Charlie, 294) ( )
  JennyArch | Feb 23, 2014 |
I loved this book, though it took me a couple times to get into it. Vera is clearly not perfect, but she is a good person who wants to do what's right, but in her own time. The additional asides from her father, the pagoda, and dead Charlie really added a lot to the telling, and made everyone much fuller character-wise. I also thought the two stories, past and present, was a great way to tell the story. ( )
  Tahleen | Feb 16, 2014 |
Vera is just trying to live her life flying under the radar, finishing high school and working full time delivering pizza. She lives alone with her dad, and is grieving over her ex-best friend Charlie, who died before they could reconcile. Vera’s a responsible student, she volunteers with animals, and is working to pay for college, but the stress of Charlie’s death has sparked a habit of drinking alcohol to cope.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz is a unique contemporary novel about grieving, growing up, and making life choices. The story is mainly told through Vera’s perspective, but there are occasional chapters told by “the dead guy” and Vera’s father, which fill in some of the details of Vera’s story. A town landmark also provides a perspective which works better than it sounds.

The protagnonist Vera lives a refreshingly normal life. She is smart, witty, and somewhat of a geek. She’s dealing with normal life problems while seeking redemption and dealing with the remorse she feels about Charlie’s death. She is trying to overcome the family demons in her closet and is concerned about turning into her mom while coming to terms with her dad. Vera is strong and responsible generally, but she makes some poor choices while she is trying to come to terms with Charlie’s death. She is at a crossroads figuring out her next step.

The tone is light and matter of fact while dealing with some heavy themes. Charlie’s story is a heart breaking and complex one and as the story unfolds we get to find out what causes his death. Charlie “appears” to Vera constantly after his death, and she feels his presence everywhere, even as a pickle in her sandwich. Vera knows she needs to help Charlie in order to help herself move on.

This storytelling is very unique, compelling and well written. I was turning pages eagerly to find out what happened with Charlie’s death, and how Vera will deal with the aftermath.Vera’s stories about delivering pizzas were horrifying – this is a more dangerous job than I realized!

This is the first book I have read by A.S. King but I’m looking forward to catching up on her first novel The Dust of 100 Dogs. If you liked other unique realistic fiction about grief such as The Sky is Everywhere, Revolution, or Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour I encourage you to check out Please Ignore Vera Dietz.

( )
  readingdate | Jan 7, 2014 |
Recensione su: http://wp.me/p3X6aw-5i
Review at: http://wp.me/p3X6aw-5i ( )
  Saretta.L | Nov 8, 2013 |
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When her best friend, whom she secretly loves, betrays her and then dies under mysterious circumstances, high school senior Vera Dietz struggles with secrets that could help clear his name.

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