Review #6: Fiction
Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
I absolutely fell in love with this novel. King writes a voice for Vera that just completely captured my attention and invited me in like an old (young) friend. I went along for this ride with her; feeling her happiness and sadness, her guilt, her reservations, at times her shame, and her fear. And at the end, I felt her relief, and her liberation. I am unable to personally relate to almost all of the events in this novel, and yet, through Vera, King is able to put me in the story, in Vera’s shoes, and make me feel as if this were my story too. Her writing is flawless, and even if the actual story wasn’t exceptional, I still would have enjoyed reading this. But lucky for us, the story IS exceptional.
(The possible spoilers start here.)
Vera’s ex-best friend Charlie, whom she’s been in love with forever, has died. Almost everyone assumes it was an accident/possible suicide, but Vera and one other person know the truth. Vera knows she’s the only one who would come forward to clear Charlie’s name, but she doesn’t know if she wants to, if he deserves that. It’s been a long, long time since she and Charlie were on good terms, and he’s done a lot to hurt her. However, now that he’s gone, his ghost (or memory might be more fitting) comes to her, trying to get her to help him move on, but more importantly, to get her to forgive herself.
This novel goes back and forth from past to present to tell the story of this doomed friendship, the hardships and tragedies that brought Vera and Charlie together in the first place, and the painful everyday growing up moments that pushed them apart. The story mainly focuses on Vera in the present, how those past events shaped her, how Charlie’s betrayal hurt her, and how that played into his death. We’re also along for the tumultuous ride that is Vera’s relationship with her single father. He seems to be that dad who ended up raising a daughter on his own and had no idea where to start, so he chose to work hard (read: a lot) and push her to be her best, to be better than he or her mother were, but inadvertently almost ends up pushing her away.
It is also a suspenseful, mysterious read, since we as readers are unaware of the actual circumstances surrounding Charlie’s death until the end. And my heart broke for Charlie, and especially Vera, when those circumstances were finally revealed. This novel is one of strength and courage, of heartache and growing pains. It is sad yet funny, about loss and discovery, and both heartbreaking and heartwarming. I cannot recommend this novel enough to not only avid YA readers, but anyone who appreciates a story about loss, love, friendships, and relationships with others, but also with ourselves.
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
*Cover art from Amazon.com