Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Please Ignore Vera Dietz, by A. S. King

In the aftermath of the death of her best friend Charlie, Vera reflects on their times together and tries to cope with her grief and guilt. This is all complicated by her recovering alcoholic father and his tendencies towards denial. A school bully also stirs things up.

Dark and worldly, King pulls no punches in showing a landscape of teenage and adult hypocrisy. And she does an equally capable job of producing a strong heroine who can rise above it all and become reborn. Vera is caustic (like the best YA heroines) but insightful and revealing. She rather reminded me of Melinda from Speak (still one of my all-time faves). Vera struggles a lot and can be annoyingly indecisive, but her growth is rewarding and affirming.

King has a strikingly original voice. Certainly, this book's Printz Honor was deserved, but this doesn't mean that the book is particularly easy to consume. The narrative is purposely disjointed, jumping back and forth in time and voice. The result is artistic, but not always enjoyable. You'll have to decide for yourself whether it works for you.

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