Vera Dietz is secretly in love with her best friend Charlie Kahn and has kept his many secrets over the years, even when he has told the whole school hers. So when Charlie dies in dark and suspicious circumstances, being blamed for something he may not have done, Vera knows more than anyone. But will she try and clear his name? And does she even want to after all he’s done?
I’d not read anything by A.S. King before but had heard a lot of good things about her novels from booktuber ArielBissett. So when Please Ignore Vera Dietz arrived in my latest Quarterly box it was the first book I read.
I really liked the writing style and the pace of this book. It’s been a while since I’ve read any contemporary YA (mainly because I’m not a huge fan of the heavy romance that tends to come with it) but I did enjoy how Please Ignore Vera Dietz panned out. Vera is a bit of a mess since Charlie’s death, she doesn’t know how to feel about him and the fact that he’s not there anymore. They were best friends, she loved him but he ruined everything before his death and she doesn’t know if she should hate him or not, especially now he’s dead. In a way it’s a relatable dilemma as we have all had that best friend who has hurt us, but you never stop caring about them straight away, even if you want to.
The narrative jumps from the present to various points in Vera’s past which allows the reader to see how her relationship with Charlie grows and then falls apart. (The last few books I’ve read has had this type of narrative style and I quite like it) There are also chapters from the point of view of Vera’s dad and Charlie. Charlie is an interesting character since you only really see him from Vera’s point of view, whether it’s her memories of the good times, or through her current frustrations with him. I couldn’t help but be annoyed with him and side with Vera (though that’s hardly surprising) that being said, at some points I couldn’t help feeling sorry for him, even though the situations he found himself in were often down to his on doing.
Vera is a very relatable and sympathetic character and one thing I liked lot about her (and the fact that it was quite a significant part of the story) was her relationship with her father. It has the usual teen-parent drama but it’s well handled, and you can’t help feel equal amounts sympathy and frustration with her father as he often fails to communicate with Vera. I think family relationships can be glossed over in some YA to focus more on the romance aspect but Please Ignore Vera Dietz balances the two really well.
Overall I really enjoyed Please Ignore Vera Dietz. It was a quick read (I read it in a few days on the train to and from work) but it also kept you hooked. The thing about this book is that it really made me feel for Vera, even though she was on a bit of a self-destructive path I couldn’t help but understand why she was doing these things and feel bad for her. When you can see yourself in the characters shoes, making the same decisions – that is the sign of a good book.
I give Please Ignore Vera Dietz 5/5 and will definitely be checking out more of A.S. King’s work.