Truth, Lies and Shadows from a Wounded Past, Review > Please Ignore Vera Dietz
King. A.S. 2010. Please Ignore Vera Dietz. New York: Random House Children’s Books.
Edgar Award Nominee for Best Young Adult (2011), Printz Honor (2011), YALSA Awards for Best Fiction for Young Adults (2011), Goodreads Choice Nominee for Young Adult Fiction (2010)
Charlie Kahn is dead, Vera Dietz’s lifelong best-friend, secret love, and betrayer is dead. The situation surrounding his death pins him for a crime he didn’t commit. Vera knows this but is doing her best to suppress this knowledge, as well as, the feelings she harbors for Charlie’s death and other secrets and for her mother who abandon Vera and her dad.
The protagonist Vera Dietz unquestionably deals with hardships and faces many challenges. Central to the book is her estranged best friend Charlie’s death and the fact that she may have been able to help him, but also central to the book is Vera and her father’s repression of dealing with Vera’s mother leaving them. Throughout the story, it is evident that Vera and her father have difficulty facing emotions and challenging situations. Many dark instances surrounding domestic violence in Charlie’s home and problems in Vera’s parent’s marriage are just swept under the rug by Vera’s father who simply attempts to “meditate” and “Zen” the issues away. This attitude rubs off on Vera who contains disturbing knowledge for many years regarding a perverted man named John and his interactions with Charlie, as well as later, the knowledge to clear Charlie’s name to the police for a fire at a pet shop. Both Vera and her dad turn to alcohol to repress their issues, and though Vera knows her father is a recovering alcoholic, she chooses to use the means to forget her own troubles. However, with the disembodied help of the dead Charlie, Vera is able to find her voice, deal with her problems straight on and tell the police what she knows about the pet shop fire and John the pervert. She is also able to help her dad face his ghosts leaving them both freer.
I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. The novel deals with many challenging topics such as overcoming poverty, shame, violence, addiction, and ignorance but ultimately leaves the reader filled with a sense of hope and mercy.
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Image credits Ivory Mix
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