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Monday, 26 February 2018

Review: Please Ignore Vera Dietz

'Mmmm'. That's the sound I made after reading the last page of a contemporary YA novel with a difference. With guts. With characters that have depth and issues that resonate.

Vera Dietz is seventeen and trying to process the unusual circumstances surrounding the death of her former best (and lifelong) friend, Charlie. Vera's life is consumed by her memories and disappointment towards Charlie as a degree of urgency slowly builds for her to solve the mystery of his death almost nine months later. Only she can clear his name.

Vera is cynical with a sharp wit unafraid to speak her mind. She also makes sure she flies under the radar at school so no one finds out about her mum's past, and tries her best to be ignored.

No matter how intelligent she is, everyone knows high school can be torture. Especially when the school's 'Detentionheads' have her in their sights and stop at nothing to spread vicious lies about her.
Even though she's smart and works long hours after school as a pizza delivery driver to help pay for college tuition, Vera avoids examining the truth and in a state of denial, knows when she's making bad choices she doesn't like. She tries hard to be different to her mother who had her at a young age and left Vera and her Dad five years ago.

By dipping back and forth in time, the author, AS King, entices the reader to feel for Vera and Charlie's incredible bond rather than judge him for his actions the last few months of his life.
Split into five parts, the novel explores different points of view and jumps around periods of time from before Charlie's death to present day. The plot is infused with various narrative devices such as dreams, supposed conversations and seeing Charlie, practising her vocal class complex words, and her dad's explanatory flow charts - which add a quirkiness to the story whilst delivering sage advice. 

I love how Vera's relationship with her dad is a work in progress and Vera has a mature approach to communicating with her dad and other adults when it counts. I also loved Vera's strength and compelling voice. It's rare to come across a teen who is willing to make the hard choices in life and who is able to turn the other cheek. A read-in-one-gulp book.

This is an intelligent, thought-provoking read. It doesn't shy away from hard-hitting issues such as death, domestic violence, bullying, drug and alcohol use and hardship. AS King has woven this story in a way where each layer of the plot and sub-plot come together in a compelling and original ending. Here is a gifted YA writer.

Fans of John Green will love this book.

Title: Please Ignore Vera Dietz
Author: AS King
Publisher: Text, $19.99
Publication Date: 29 January 2018
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781925603286
For ages: 13+
Type: Young Adult Fiction

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