Reader beware: Please Ignore Vera Dietz isn't exactly a feel good story about best friends. In fact, author A.S. King writes about the gritty and dark side of adolescence with this tale of a best friendship gone very—and we do mean very—wrong. Our titular character Vera is dealing with lots of grief and anger when the book opens: Her former best friend/enemy Charlie is dead, and she doesn't know whether to mourn his death or curse his memory.
Published in 2010, Please Ignore Vera Dietz is a book about anger and loss. Most of the story comes from Vera (though a few other characters take turns playing narrator), as she struggles to make peace with the destruction of her friendship with Charlie, the pressure his ghosts keep putting on her to clear his name of a pretty heinous crime, and how to live with her dad after her mom up and leaves them. Add Charlie's abusive parents into the mix and the no-good Detentionheads at school, and Vera's got a lot of pretty legit beef with the world around her.
Sound like a refreshing break from the classic leading lady featured in so many other novels? You're not alone in thinking so, and Please Ignore Vera Dietz was a 2011 Printz Honor book and an Edgar Award Nominee, in addition to finding itself on several best books for teens lists. There's no dude to the rescue in this one, so pick up a copy and get ready to get your girl power on. You might just find that, like Vera, you feel surprisingly happy when you finish reading.
Have you ever gone through one of the phases where you just feel lost, with no idea about what you're going to do with your life or how you're going to move forward? Well cheer up, because everyone goes through one of those periods, and Please Ignore Vera Dietz is a book that shows you that no matter how adrift you feel, there's always a way to get back to where you're supposed to be.
Our heroine Vera goes through a pretty dark period after her friend Charlie ditches her—and then dies—and it seems like nothing will ever be okay again. But by the end, she's pulled herself out of the muck and managed to grow from the whole experience, no matter how painful it may be along the way. And she's not the only character who finds some much needed clarity in this book, so we also get to see her dad's journey to self-understanding as well as Charlie's, even if his does come a little too late.
The moral of the story is this: If you've felt lost before, then you'll probably find a bit of yourself reflected back from these pages. And if you haven't felt lost yet, well, then consider this a handy guide to tuck away for when that feeling eventually comes along (because it comes along for everyone, we're pretty sure). And if you're feeling lost right now? Then pick this book up. Maybe it'll help you find your way, and if not, at least it will fill some of your time for you.
A.S. King's Home on the Web
Fun facts: King loves corn and wears magical writing pants.
A Brief Word On Drinking
In this interview with A.S. King, she discusses the role that drinking plays in her own life, and how warnings about alcoholism from her parents inspired the ones that Ken gives to Vera.
Let's Talk Pizza
In an interview with Zoe's Book Reviews, A.S. King reveals that she did work as a pizza delivery driver in high school and college, and that like Vera, she hated ending up in the bad parts of town.
A Brief Trailer
In the age of the Internet, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Please Ignore Vera Dietz has an official online trailer.
Tales of Woe
If you'd rather listen to the voices of all the weary and troubled narrators in Please Ignore Vera Dietz, you can find the book on Audible.com.
The official cover of Please Ignore Vera Dietz features an image of Charlie's ever-present Zippo lighter.
The town that Vera and Charlie are from may be fictional, but that doesn't mean that we can't find neon pagodas similar to the one that overlooks their town. Maybe the Pagoda looked something like this when lit up at night.