Amanda Reads: Please Ignore Vera Dietz

Hey, internet people! I’m just going to warn you now–I loved this book. I loved it a lot. If you’re a YA naysayer, you may want to find your way to the imaginary door out of this blog, because I’m about to gush, big time.

So, I essentially read nothing but YA from the time I was able to read until I started college. Other than the books I was assigned in school, I was all about my Meg Cabot and my Sarah Dessen (women who, it should be said, remain an inspiration to me as I hope to one day be published in YA, as well). During college, I started trying to focus on “serious” “literature” (scare quotes highly intended). Don’t get me wrong, it was a good time. I enjoyed diversifying my reading and seeing what else was out there. I still read “serious” “literature” all the time. But it had been a while since I’d picked up a new YA title and been able to just completely get lost in it without feeling totally unnecessarily guilt for not reading some more “serious.” Please Ignore Vera Dietz cured me of that in about 1,001 different ways.

First off, a little shout out to Book Riot, without whom I might not have ever actually picked this one up. The book came in one of their Quarterly boxes, and once I own a thing, I’m a lot more likely to use said thing. So when I asked myself “What’s next?” I picked up this book. And let me tell you, I was not disappointed.

As I said, other than a couple John Green audiobooks and The Hunger Games trilogy, I haven’t been keeping up with what’s new in the world of YA as much as I’d like to. This book seemed, to me, pretty different and unique compared to a lot of what I’d read previously.

I don’t want to give away too much, but the book basically starts off with this, so it should be okay: the book centers around a girl, Vera, who was in love with her male best friend. I know, that sounds like a bad start to the whole unique thing (we can talk about how I both love this plot device and want to punch this plot device in the face some other time), but here’s the thing–Charlie is dead. So that’s where things get a little more interesting. Instead of watching Vera and Charlie fall slowly and inevitably in love (aww/groan), we get the aftermath of what happens when two people spend a lot of time trying to avoid fate, both in the form of becoming like their parents and falling inevitably in love with each other. Vera deals with some heavy stuff here: her mother leaving, her family history of alcholism, the knowledge that she and her parents knew Charlie’s father was abusive but overlooked it… this is no light, fluffy book. This book gets deep. This book gets real even while it’s getting surreal.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz broke me apart and put me back together again in all the best and most beautiful ways. It also made me laugh and made me think. So basically, it’s all that you want in a book. I also really enjoyed how A.S. King played with form in storytelling. She includes flow charts throughout the book to give insight into how character’s brains work, as well as occasional chapters from odd points of view, such as “A Brief Word from the Pagada” sections and, my personal favorite, “A Brief Word from the Dead Kid.” These sections kept it interesting and allowed King to show us details and things we wouldn’t have gotten through the closely filtered first person narration of Vera.

I highly, highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone who reads books. Seriously. Get off my blog, go to the book store, get this book, and read it.

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