Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
rating: 7/8 tentacles
Vera Dietz has lost her best friend Charlie twice: first when he betrayed her, and again when he died under mysterious and unsavory circumstances. Vera knows something that might clear Charlie’s name, but isn’t sure she’s ready to share. Please Ignore Vera Dietz is about the courage it takes to break through the safe facade of normalcy—in whose shadows the twisting, choking roots of lies and hidden evils flourish.
King’s writing is strong and illuminating, her world and characters solid. Vera, the primary narrator, is sarcastic, intelligent, independent, and a little weird. I like her. It is easy to sympathize with her bitter regret of Charlie’s death—easy to feel the pain of Vera’s loss because halfway through the book I missed Charlie too. King’s alternating perspectives create nuance and depth. We get to hear from Vera’s dad and accounts from the deceased Charlie and the Pagoda (a town landmark) lend a dark quirkiness to the novel. Its most striking success is the clarity with which I can see through the prose of the story, how the characters and their lives become more real than the printed words before my eyes.
Vera’s tale is dark, funny, mysterious, and heartbreaking. It is honest: there is a sad, ringing truth to the tangle of emotions Vera struggles with after Charlie’s death and this honesty plays a large role in my response to the novel. I look forward to reading King’s other work.