Rating: 3/5 stars.
On the surface level, Please Ignore Vera Dietz is about the death of a girl’s best friend. But, because that would be too easy, it’s much deeper. Vera Dietz, the girl in question, has spent a solid portion of her life in love with Charlie Khan – the same boy she hung out with when she was a kid. Then high school happens, and their relationship takes a turn for the worse. Vera comes to hate Charlie; however, when Charlie dies in a devastating way, will she be willing to clear his name?
Please Ignore Vera Dietz isn’t an easy read. It contains the death of a best friend, a mother who abandons her daughter, alcoholic genes, bullies, etc. One of the several unique aspects of A.S. King’s novel is the contrast of those dark topics with the lighthearted and witty voice of Vera, the protagonist. I ascertained the struggle Vera went through, but it wasn’t all that clear or well-defined; it wasn’t “my best friend died, now I feel grief” but much more complex and intriguing.
King accomplished many tasks with this work. She utilized various first-person perspectives (one of them is a pagoda), carried the mystery throughout the story, and presented numerous touchy issues without taking on a trite tone. Despite my three-star rating, I would recommend this book to teens because it contains little thought grenades that make you step back and reevaluate your life experiences.
But for some reason I simply didn’t love this book. Reading through other reviews on Goodreads from more seasoned/analytical perspectives makes me think that yes, this was a fantastic novel. Yet there’s something – and perhaps this is an entirely personal conundrum – that prevents me from giving it the utmost praise. Maybe it’s because I found the plot lines and characters dry (even if they were superbly original) or I just felt an unexplainable lack of empathy overall. Either way, I would recommend this one. It just didn’t entirely resonate with me.