Thursday, December 9, 2010

Please Ignore Vera Dietz, by A. S. King

I've seen this title on a lot of "best of 2010" lists, so I decided that I just couldn't "ignore Vera."  I loved the characters in this book -- for once, Vera's father was supportive, and loving -- but also flawed.  He's trying so hard to be a good dad, but he's a single parent, and he has his own problems.

Vera is trying to get over the death of her best friend, Charlie.  It's even more complicated because they had a falling-out and were estranged when he died.  From the beginning, the reader knows that Vera knows something about this death that she isn't revealing.  Slowly, and carefully we are given the story.  There are flashbacks to when they were young neighborhood friends. We get the POV of Charlie (from the afterworld), from Vera's dad, even from the Pagoda (a town shrine and hang out.)  Vera is such a level-headed teen.  She keeps her cool, trying to be an adult as her "12-year-old self" wants to lose it.  There is much interesting "self-talk."

As the story unfolds, we realize that Charlie was really troubled.  He's got a violent home life, and has some interesting ways of escaping.  It's obvious that Charlie and Vera have something special -- they are in love -- but neither will admit it, because it is "wrong."

The one thing that was hard for me to relate to was Vera's dad insisting that she work her butt off all through high school.  I'm so far away from that point of view.  I never wanted my kids to work -- there's so much to do at school, church, and other extracurricular activities (not to mention keeping grades up) that my kids were never encouraged to work.  But that's my world, and it really didn't bother me that much -- I just thought it was a strange way for his character to act.

The end is satisfying.  We find out what happened, and Vera and her dad cross some emotional hurdles that we are left to believe will improve their lives.

This was a quick read, a great "coming-of-age" novel, and should be recommended to teens who like realistic fiction about teens finding their way.

Don't forget to enter my first ever giveaway here!

6 comments:

  1. Thanks for the review! It sounds like a really good book.
    -Danna

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  2. This sounds fantastic. What a great well thought out review. I totally agree with you about kids and working. I never had my kids work during school, I wanted them to focus on school work first and sports second. I didn't think they needed to add a third focus. My children worked during the summer break to earn money for gas and car insurance.

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  3. Awesome review! I have been meaning to read this for awhile and you have encouraged me to put it on hold at my local library!! Thanks for the review!

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  4. Thank you for reading and reviewing the book! Glad you liked it. I really appreciate you spreading the word.

    On working kids:
    A lot of kids where I grew up worked during their school years. (Most of us, actually.) I guess it all depends on where you come from and what the family needs or requires of you, you know?

    In my case, I actually think my high school work experiences shaped me more than school experiences (including my sports experiences) and to me, high school characters who *don't* have jobs are a bit odd. (Which is why almost all my high school-aged characters work. But then again, most of them come from homes where if they want something, like a car, they have to buy it themselves.)

    Anyway! Thanks again for reading and being so kind about the book. I'm thrilled you enjoyed it.

    Amy

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  5. I haven't read this book yet, but have seen it on all sorts of top ten lists. I'm going to have to check it out...I don't know that I am going to love it, mostly for some of the reasons that you point out, but I am going to give it a try! Thanks!

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  6. I've heard nothing but good things about this book, and I am in love with the trailer. I bought it fairly recently after wanting it for a long time, so I'm hoping to read it in the next few weeks!

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