Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
Please ignore Vera Dietz. Please ignore Vera Dietz! PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ!!!
This was what Vera Dietz screams inside her head, her mantra gone overboard, nowadays. All she wants now is for people to not notice her, to be invisible. She wanted them to look away from her, especially Jenny Flick and her crowd. She wanted to be alone with her thoughts, and wallow the loss of her bestfriend, her love, Charlie Kahn.
Actually, this was not how it was before. Her wish of being ignored was not as desperate. It was not this bad when she hasn’t lost Charlie, twice. Vera was devastated when he died, she was angry. But that was not the time she lost him, no. Vera Dietz lost Charlie Kahn way before his death even occurred, and she could not weigh these two instances and choose which was worse.
If she could only go back in time, when the only people in the world were her and Charlie, then she’d be happy. Vera Dietz and Charlie Kahn had known each ever seen they were in diapers. I guess that was given and inevitable when their houses are just a walk away, separated only by trees. Since childhood, the two have found solace in each other’s company. In their tree house, they spend their time, talking about life, school, the future, and everything else. This was their escape from their chaotic family.
Speaking of family, Vera and Charlie keeps each other s’ family secret. Vera lives with her father ever since her mom left when she was twelve years old. That was not the thing she hides from everyone. It was the fact that her mom used to be a stripper and that she eloped with her doctor, away to Las Vegas. For Vera, this secret leaking out was unfathomable and unimaginable. As for Charlie, he has a more complicated problem than Vera. His parents are forever fighting, arguing every night. His father hits her mom and this abusive behavior was known in the Dietz household. They here everything from the shouts, the hitting sounds, and yet, Vera’s father said that it was better to just ignore everything.
Vera and Charlie’s relationship continued for years and all was well. Vera developed feeling for her best friend which she kept secret for she cannot waste the bond they already had. They were living their different lives in school, Charlie being the popular delinquent he was and Vera the quiet, shy, smart and responsible kid. Despite this, at the end of the day, the two would still spend time together at their tree house or at the Master Oak or they would drive to the Pagoda and fly paper planes.
Things took a full turn when Charlie spends a lot more time in detention, hanging out with the Detentionheads and Potheads and Jenny Flick. Suddenly, there was limited time for him and Vera to even see each other. They don’t mention it, but both of them knew that the relationship they built over time was slowly crumbling down.
And then fate took its toll as lies made their way into the picture. How easy was it to destroy that strong bond with a lie planted by another person? Was it really the end of everything for Vera and Charlie? How could Vera forgive her best friend when just weeks after his betrayal, he just happened to die? Aside from the fact that she was left forever, Vera was also haunted by a secret that could reveal the truth about his death and clear his name. But does she have the heart to give in one more time, help him, even after all the hurtful things he did? Would she do the right thing despite being treated unfairly?
Three words that I think best describes this book: realistic, honest, and relatable. At first, I was wary and unsure of it. I thought that it was just another sappy teen romance story, the typical childhood friend-turn-to-crush-turn-to-love-life kind of thing. But oh, was I wrong.
What made it different from all those cheesy teenage novels is that it tackles issues that are usually hushed up and kept secret. Everything in this book—from broken families, abandonment to physical and verbal abuse, from pedophilia to betrayal, from alcoholism to escaping one’s destiny—is just exploding with truthfulness. And I think that was the main reason why this book touched so many readers. It was capable of harboring deep emotions from readers and showing it straight to our faces. Reading it was really a trip on an emotional rollercoaster. It was like being there, portraying the characters like it was our own life at play.
Another thing I deeply enjoyed about this book is how it toys with one’s idea of destiny and fate. The story revolves around Vera and Charlie’s struggle of prying away from the mistakes their parents made. And ironically, the process just shoved them back and leads them to be the people they never wanted to be. And it does not end there. It also affected their friendship badly. This was what gets to me the most. I can relate so well with Vera as she wade through life after the betrayal, lost and completely helpless. But what I admire so much about her is that she can control her feelings and that she is just so kind. She never stooped down to get revenge or anything. She kept to herself and endured every single misfortune she had.
I now understand why this book won the Michael Printz Honor, and I know that it was well deserved. I give this book a 4.5/5.