Please Ignore Vera Dietz Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged
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Kirkus Reviews, starred review, September 15, 2010:
"A harrowing but ultimately redemptive tale of adolescent angst gone awry. Vera and Charlie are lifelong buddies whose relationship is sundered by high school and hormones; by the start of their senior year, the once-inseparable pair is estranged. In the aftermath of Charlie’s sudden death, Vera is set adrift by grief, guilt and the uncomfortable realization that the people closest to her are still, in crucial ways, strangers. As with King’s first novel, The Dust of 100 Dogs (2009), this is chilling and challenging stuff, but her prose here is richly detailed and wryly observant. The story unfolds through authentic dialogue and a nonlinear narrative that shifts fluidly among Vera’s present perspective, flashbacks that illuminate the tragedies she’s endured, brief and often humorous interpolations from “the dead kid,” Vera’s father and even the hilltop pagoda that overlooks their dead-end Pennsylvania town. The author depicts the journey to overcome a legacy of poverty, violence, addiction and ignorance as an arduous one, but Vera’s path glimmers with grace and hope." (Fiction. 14 & up)
Publishers Weekly, starred review, October 11, 2010:
"Beginning with the funeral of Charlie Kahn, high school senior Vera's neighbor and former best friend, this chilling and darkly comedic novel offers a gradual unfolding of secrets about the troubled teenagers, their families, and their town. Though Charlie's death hangs heavily over Vera, she has the road ahead mapped out: pay her way through community college with her job delivering pizza while living "cheap" in her father's house. But first she has to face her fractured relationship with her father, a recovering alcoholic who worries about her drinking; the absence of her mother, who left six years earlier; and the knowledge that she could clear Charlie's suspected guilt in a crime. Vera is the primary narrator, though her father, Charlie (posthumously), and even the town's landmark pagoda contribute interludes as King (The Dust of 100 Dogs) shows how shame and silence can have risky--sometimes deadly--consequences. The book is deeply suspenseful and profoundly human as Vera, haunted by memories of Charlie and how their friendship disintegrated, struggles to find the courage to combat destructive forces, save herself, and bring justice to light." Ages 13–up. (Oct.)
Booklist, starred review, November 15, 2010:
"High-school senior Vera never expects her ex-best friend, Charlie, to haunt her after he dies, begging her to clear his name of a horrible accusation surrounding his death. But does Vera want to help him after what he did to her? Charlie’s risky, compulsive behavior and brand-new bad-news pals proved to be his undoing, while Vera’s mantra was always “Please Ignore Vera Dietz,” as she strives, with Charlie’s help, to keep a secret about her family private. But when Charlie betrays her, it is impossible to fend off her classmates’ cruel attacks or isolate herself any longer. Vera’s struggle to put Charlie and his besmirched name behind her are at the crux of this witty, thought-provoking novel, but nothing compares to the gorgeous unfurling of Vera’s relationship with her father. Chapters titled “A Brief Word from Ken Dietz (Vera’s Dad)” are surprising, heartfelt, and tragic; it’s through Ken that readers see how quickly alcohol and compromised decision-making are destroying Vera’s carefully constructed existence. Father and daughter wade gingerly through long-concealed emotions about Vera’s mother’s leaving the family, which proves to be the most powerful redemption story of the many found in King’s arresting tale. Watching characters turn into the people they’ve long fought to avoid becoming is painful, but seeing them rise above it, reflect, and move on makes this title a worthy addition to any YA collection."
The Bulletin of the Center for Childrens Books, review, November 2010:
"The death of a best friend is hard enough, but for high-school senior Vera Dietz, her reaction to the death of Charlie Kahn is complicated by the fact that in the last few months he’d dumped her for the druggie pack at school, especially tough-girl Jenny. Flashbacks and compact commentary from Charlie himself, from Vera’s straitlaced dad, and from an omniscient local landmark interweave with Vera’s current narration, painting the picture of Vera and Charlie’s close friendship and its recent souring and revealing that Vera is the guilty and troubled possessor of many secrets about her late friend. King offers a perceptive exploration of a particular kind of friendship, one where one friend is undergoing agonies beyond the power of the other to help. Vera’s own troubles—her abandonment by her mother, the strictness and emotional evasion of her recovering-alcoholic father—get sympathetic treatment, but it’s clear that Vera is loved and cared for in a way that Charlie, stuck in a poisonous, abusive home, simply wasn’t. Yet it’s Vera’s life even more than Charlie’s that’s under scrutiny here, especially since Vera still has the possibility of making changes, both in her dealing with Charlie’s memory and in her ongoing relationships. The writing is emotional yet unfussy, and Vera’s tendency to see and perceive Charlie in every place and every thing is both effective and affecting. It’s not uncommon for the dysfunction in one friend’s life to start sowing seeds of doom for a friendship, and Vera’s poignant take on her double loss will resonate with many readers."
VOYA, review, November 2010:
"It is hard to describe how deeply affecting this story is. Vera and Charlie are both the victims of extremely bad parenting, but that only scratches the surface of the novel. The writing is phenomenal, the characters unforgettable. The narrative weaves through the past and present, mostly from Vera's viewpoint but with telling asides from other characters. There is so much in here for young people to think about, presented authentically and without filters: drinking and its consequences; the social hierarchy of high school; civic responsibilities; and teens' decisions to accept or reject what their parents pass down to them. It is a gut-wrenching tale about family, friendship, destiny, the meaning of words, and self-discovery. It will glow in the reader for a long time after the reading, just like the neon red pagoda that watches over Vera and her world."
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
A.S. King is also the author of The Dust of 100 Dogs. Amy spent a decade living self-sufficiently on an Irish farm before she returned to the United States. She now lives with her family in a small Pennsylvania town.
Top Customer Reviews
Vera is the result of a teen pregnancy. One of her secrets is that after she was born her mother was a stripper. Her best friend, Charlie, knows that secret, but she would like to keep it from everyone else if at all possible.
Charlie is at the center of many of Vera's secrets. They have been each other's best friend forever, and they share the secret that Charlie's father abuses Charlie's mother. As neighbors, it has been difficult to ignore the sounds of shouts and slaps, but Vera's father says keeping their secret makes things easier for everyone.
It isn't until Charlie's untimely death that Vera fully embraces the secret love that she has felt for him. As she deals with a full-time job, keeping up her grades, and pleasing her father, Vera's stress level has her visualizing Charlie everywhere. It takes a while to realize that the "Charlies" are trying to communicate something.
There are secrets that Charlie wants Vera to uncover and use to clear his name. The circumstances around his death were suspicious and involved the destruction of a place Vera loved, but these are secrets she finds incredibly frightening to share. Will she find the courage she needs to do the right thing?
PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ is presented through multiple voices, including both the past and present. A.S. King draws readers into Vera's world and then slowly peels away the layers to reveal each and every secret. The characters speak realistically and the situations ring true, making King's story flow smoothly despite the many shifts in focus. This novel will please King's fans and earn her many new ones.
Reviewed by: Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky"
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I'm a middle-aged man who gave up on YA literature when he was a YA. Which was a long, long time ago.
But PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ is the real deal. No glittery vampires. No baloney. Just real, live people with real, live problems. Like the ones I had when I was a YA myself. And like the ones you might have right now.
It's a book with heart, a book with soul.
It's a book that will endure.
Buy a copy right this minute, and help make sure that that happens.
Please Ignore Vera Dietz is a powerful, tragic, and surprisingly poignant book. The majority of the book is narrated by Vera, who is a real, flawed, and darkly humorous character with a voice that demands to be listened to. Her narrative alternates between the past and present, and every so often a chapter from the point of view of Charlie, Vera's father, or even the pagoda in their hometown shows up in surprisingly refreshing interludes. King provides an excellent balance between all of these points of view, and the different perspectives give this book another interesting layer as readers can see firsthand the troubles Vera's father faced in his life and the mistakes he doesn't want his daughter to repeat, and Charlie's own regrets. The issue of children "fated" to become their parents is dealt with well, and King realistically portrays the conflicts and temptations that Vera faces without sugarcoating anything. Please Ignore Vera Dietz is as much about Vera's struggle to forgive Charlie as it is about her reconciling her feelings about her mother's abandonment and finally opening up to her father. This is an unforgettable book about mistakes, second chances, redemption, and becoming your own person--please don't ignore Vera Dietz.
Did you read The Dust of 100 Dogs? If you didn't, drop everything you are doing right now and go buy it! It was incredible. You have never read anything like it before, trust me! How does an author write a follow up that lives up to the extremely high expectations set by 100 Dogs? We should ask A.S. King, because she definitely did it.
Please Ignore Vera Dietz is about Vera Dietz, obviously. She's a little odd, but in a good way. She's dealing with the death of her ex-best friend, Charlie. She loved him. She hated him. She knows what happened the night he died, but can she find it in her to forgive him and clear his name?
Vera was such a fantastic protagonist! She was witty and smart, but she still did dumb things. She is a teenager so she is allowed a few dumb things. I connected with her instantly. My heart broke for her but she was unbelievable strong. She definitely held her own.
Her best friend Charlie is dead from the very beginning of the book, but you get glimpses of their relationship in the History chapters. I loved Charlie, and hated him. Just like Vera did. I wanted things to turn out differently for them, but obviously it couldn't because he was dead from page 1!
What makes this book so special? The writing! A.S. King has a way of telling you a story that will make you turn pages faster than you ever have before. The story is beautifully complex without being over done. She weaves the mystery and questions in flawlessly, but you don't get impatient for answers because the path to get there is so engaging. None of it was predictable and I never lost interest. Not even for a few seconds. The chores went undone while reading this book!
I must reiterate that this review doesn't do this book justice. Please, just read it and find out for yourself! Be prepared to read it in one sitting because it is addicting!
My other major qualms with this book, were the characters felt like YA archetypes, and the rather boring plot. Charlie, The kid whose dad is abusive and does drugs. Vera, The girl who is seemingly apathetic about everything except for a troubled boy who gives her few reasons to love him. I'm not completely sure that any character felt unique. Maybe that's just a writer who understands she has to check certain boxes off when she creates characters. I'm not sure. But the most compelling character was Vera's dad, who seemed to give a damn about fixing his life and trying his best to deal with his situation. Vera wallows in her own misery, and suddenly rises like a phoenix for no reason at all, except to suddenly end a rather mundane narrative of pizza deliveries, pointless flashbacks, and interludes from a dead character.
Again, I had no issue with the writing. A.S. King is obviously exceptional in that regard. But it just felt like one long episode of an MTV teen drama. So many YA books deal with death and loss. And do with a much more deft touch, than throwing in an unnecessary paranormal element, and titillating the reader with a 'secret' that turns out to be something we could've figured out from the beginning if Vera simply decided to act sooner.