Where has A.S. King been all my life? I can’t believe I’m just discovering her, and her beautifully heartbreaking and ultimately uplifting story, Please Ignore Vera Dietz.
There are some books out there where the characters and/or story come alive after the first chapter, or maybe half way through the first chapter, or maybe not until the end of the second chapter. This isn’t one of those books. I was hooked from the very first page and never looked back. Deadlines? Who cares! Breakfast for dinner again? Yes! Why? Because I had to find out what happened to Charlie Kahn, and how it would all go for the title character, Vera Dietz.
The story begins with soon-to-be high school senior Vera grappling with the shocking death of her best friend, Charlie. As the opening pages unfold, we learn that what makes dealing with Charlie’s death even more difficult is the way in which their friendship disintergrated in the months leading up to his death. A.S. King masterfully guides us through the aftermath of Charlie’s funeral, as well steps us back through the history of Charlie and Vera’s friendship in alternating and brilliant point-of-view shifts, including the Voice from Beyond of Charlie, the hilarious and spot-on diagrams of Vera’s father Ken, and even the snarky and insightful voice of the Pagoda – which hangs over the town and has seen quite a bit of life unfolding in and around it over the years.
Point-of-view of a Pagoda, you say? Don’t be scared. It works, and works on a level that I would happily read an entire book told in the Pagoda’s voice if A.S. King would write it. I’ll also add that King has created a spectacular villain in the person on Jenny Flick. That’s right. Flick. Jenny Flick. You want to hate her already, don’t you? Believe me, by the end, you will.
I’ve only recently discovered my love of the YA Contemporary genre, due in part to books from Rainbow Rowell and Stephanie Perkins, and now A.S. King too. If you haven’t given YA Contemp a chance, or haven’t yet found A.S. King on your own, I highly recommend you dive in with Please Ignore Vera Dietz. You won’t regret it.