Jason's Reviews > Please Ignore Vera Dietz

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
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's review
Jun 08, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: mystery, young-adult
Read in June, 2012

I listened to the audiobook of this novel. Let me say right off that the narrator had a very fitting voice for Vera--soulful and sarcastic and a hint of sorrow. I was pleasantly surprised to hear two male narrators sprinkled throughout the audiobook as well. They did a fine job, especially Vera's dad, Ken, but I always found myself eager to get back to Vera. I suppose that would have been the same if I'd been reading this book. In a few scenes, Vera and Ken were voiced by two different voice actors, and I really enjoyed that. I wish the entire audio book had been that way, but instead I just had to hear Vera's narrator use a deeper voice for Ken. I also wish I could have seen Ken's flow charts instead of just hearing them.

Vera Dietz has a sucky life. When she was 12, her mother ran off with a podiatrist and has only sent her $50 each year since on her birthday. Her father seems clueless and obsessed with money, and her best friend is dead. You read that right. Charlie Kahn, her next-door neighbor, her best friend for years, is not only dead, but he is also haunting Vera's every waking hour, appearing sometimes as an army of Charlies, begging for Vera to clear his name.

As the novel progresses--usually narrated by Vera, sometimes narrated by her father, Charlie, and The Pagoda (a fading building in their Pennsylvania town)--it is revealed Vera's feelings for Charlie are more than a little complicated. At one time, Vera had very strong feelings for him. More-than-friends feelings. But when he died, they weren't exactly friends. In fact, Vera was no longer even talking to him. But a horrible act of arson has been connected to Charlie. He has been blamed with burning down Zimmerman's pet store, and Vera knows he wasn't involved.

Vera copes by drinking booze (Vodka!) and ignoring her problems by striking up a romance with 23-year-old college dropout James at Pagoda Pizza where she is a pizza delivery technician. But Charlie keeps popping up in Vera's dreams and sometimes even speaks to her through other people. He wants justice, and he also wants Vera to stop hating him for what he did to her--a mystery not revealed until about 2/3 of the way through the novel.

The novel zips back and forth between the present and the past, all building up to the fateful night of the pet store fire. To break up the intensity and suspense, Vera sometimes shares sentences based on the words from her Vocabulary class. I always found these entertaining.

In a way, this novel reminded me of 13 Reasons Why because just like Hannah Baker, Charlie Kahn is a tortured soul. His father physically and verbally abuses his mother, and he builds an epic tree house just to escape them during the summer months. He falls into the wrong crowd and doesn't realize it until it's too late. He begs for help and doesn't get it. However, whereas I didn't have much sympathy for Hannah, I had a lot for Charlie. And just like Hannah speaks beyond the grave through her tapes, Charlie appears in Vera's life after his death, almost in a magical realism kind of way.

Not every question I had was answered, but I felt happy with how the novel ended for the most part. Unless I just missed hearing it, I don't think we ever found out what was inside the yellow envelope at the end of the novel. I have a very strong guess as to its contents, and I guess I'm okay with the present not being tied up with a perfect bow.

I look forward to reading King's new book.

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