Review Detail5.0 2
The two that come to mind almost instinctively are Holly Schindlers A BLUE SO DARK (Flux, 2010) and Jandy Nelsons THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE (Dial, 2010)if you havent read them, do so, as they are brilliant, complex and smart observations of what it means to be a teen. (You'll see yourself reflected in the characters, I promise.)
Im happy to say that I recently read (and rereadits impulsive!) another 2010 book Id add to that listA.S. Kings PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ (Knopf, 2010), the second novel from this incredibly talented and poignant novelist. (Kings first novel, THE DUST OF 100 DOGS, was published by Flux in 2009also an awesome read.)
Though not perfect, VERA DIETZ is a novel that I shall cherish for its voice and its honest portrayal of a cast of characters, all so real it physically hurts.
From the cover flap: Is it okay to hate a dead kid? Even if I loved him once? Even if he was my best friend? Is it okay to hate him for being dead?
Veras spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years shes kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything. So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyonethe kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?
Its so hard to talk about a book like this one (aka, think about it out loud) without giving away too much. Theres an incredible amount of stuffthe experimental narration (some scenes King narrates from the POV of the pagoda that sits atop the hill in this town, for example, and she also breaks up the narration in very interesting ways); the use of flow charts to summarize, often cynically, major life lessons; and the main character herself.
Vera is multi-dimensionalsmart, cynical, funny, devastated, coming of age, unforgiving, forgiving, all rolled up in one. Shes such a teen. Everything about her screams TEEN. REAL TEEN. PAY ATTENTION. I adored her, and I sure would love to have someone like her in real life to call a friend. Charlie, too, is believable in and out, and theres a lot that a reader can take away from Vera and Charlies relationship (or lack of one) with each other.
The plot is simple in its complexitythere are many things going on, but the main plot arc and the questions it raises are all crystal clear. And its the line between plot and character where I wondered about a few things (why Vera stopped drinking so easily, for onethough she comes off as a responsible person all in all, the plot jumped ahead, and while I understand that a novel has its limitations, there were some tiny inconsistencies like this one).
There is so much here to drink in.
I cant recommend PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ more, a novel that is brilliantly written with a ton of insight, a lot of which might just strike close to your heart.
Vera Dietzwhat a name. What a character. Pagoda Pizza driver. Cynic. Humorist. Student. Daughter. Best friend. Wallflower. Shes someone you definitely want to get to know, I promise you, and as you learn about her, youll find yourself falling for her dad, her mom (despite her flaws), Charlie, James (the twenty-three-year-old Vera almost dates), the nice people at the pizza place, and the nice people at the animal store (animal store? What animal store? Youll have to read this to find out).
Go. Read. Come back and tell us how much you loved it!