By Cherry Marshmallow. Posted in Cherry Marshmallow | 1 Comment »
Smitten with the excellent cover, featuring an old school lighter, this Printz honor book is the best YA novel I’ve read in a LONG time. Finally – a teen character who sounds authentic! Vera Dietz is a smart, witty, insecure, brave, pragmatic, wishful, hard-working, cynical idealist who has issues with her parents, her childhood friend and secret love Charlie, mean girl Jenny Flick, alcohol and cigarettes. The book opens with Vera and her dad attending Charlie’s funeral. Charlie has committed suicide and Vera, who knew he was broken, before they broke apart, doesn’t know what to feel, only that all the feelings coming at her are too much to handle. The story unfolds from there, flashing back and forth from past to present.
We know that a lot of YA authors are guilty of sticking in too many tired, plot devices – emotionally distant dads, best friends who are unexpressed true loves, moms that leave, and make out sessions that lead characters to consider the “appropriateness” of their choice in partner, never just having a great time. (Call me hyper-critical, but even teen suicide feels like it’s become a routine topic to hinge a plot on, not the devastating, unbearable, and horrific event that it really is). Certainly, A. S. King uses a lot of these stock situations, but the character of Vera, is so vibrant and strong – I didn’t care about the overused plot points. Vera blows fresh air into a kind of stale genre! Many of the twists and turns in the story worked for me because I just want to hang out with Vera and have her tell me what’s happening with her.
So in my, you’ll love it/it’s not for you style – here’s what I’m thinking.
You’ll love “Please Ignora Vera Diez” (PIVD) if you love (or long for) a character who is so sharp and funny, that even when she is trying not to be noticed, she is incredibly compelling. or if you like a plot that moves quickly, has a few unexpected twists, and doesn’t resort to making someone reform in the end to make sure that you get the message. Or, if you are looking for a little bit of creepy sub-plot – you’ll love PIVD. Oh yeah, or if you’re a teenage guy who is smart enough to read good books with strong female characters, and then used what they learned to connect to women in their own life.
PIVD is NOT for you if you’re looking for answers, vampires, werewolves, wizards or animals that talk. Or if you don’t like reality fiction with a fair amount of sophisticated subject matter – including teenage drinking, sexual abuse and suicide.