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Please Ignore Vera Dietz

by A. S. King

Published by Alfred A. Knopf, 2010
326 pages
ISBN: 978-0-375-86586-2

Ages 14 and older

A tough, funny, sometimes painful look at complacency, compassion, and friendship begins with the funeral of Vera Deitz’s best friend, Charlie. Vera is the only one who knows that Charlie was innocent of the crime most believe he committed on the night he died. Telling the truth should be simple, but that would mean addressing her increasingly complicated relationship with Charlie. It would also mean addressing her parents’ refusal to acknowledge the abuse in Charlie’s home—they never reported his mother’s cries of pain to the police—and the recent departure of Vera’s mom, something about which she and her dad never talk. Vera’s voice is remarkable, both scathing and full of compassion for the people around her. Occasional interjections from others—Vera’s dad, a likable, buttoned-up accountant who’s trying too hard to improve himself and Vera; Charlie himself from the afterlife; and even the “pagoda,” an architectural symbol of their town—add humor, pathos, and hard-hitting honesty to a book that alternates between past and present as Vera recounts her friendship with Charlie and seeks courage to face many truths. This book full of memorable characters seamlessly incorporates real-life issues, from the struggle to balance work and school to the complications of being underage and falling in love with an older guy.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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