Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ten Reasons to Pay Attention to Vera Dietz

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King (Knopf, Oct 12, 2010, for ages 14 and up. Includes mature content).

TEN REASONS TO PAY ATTENTION TO VERA DIETZ

1.  The voice of the 18-year-old narrator is spot-on.  She's sardonic, smart, sarcastic and very real.  By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, this is a story about a girl desperately trying to survive her senior year in high school by flying under the radar as she always has. But she's barely holding it together because her best friend Charlie has betrayed her and then died in suspicious circumstances.  Suddenly Vera starts seeing him everywhere.  He even talks to her (trying to convince her to go to the authorities and tell what she knows about his death).  He even occasionally talks to us ("A Brief Word From the Dead Kid"). 

2. If you're a writer, you'll appreciate the the masterful juggling of the non-linear plot.  I don't know how Amy King does this, but it's extremely well done.  She goes back and forth in time, revealing little by little what happened in the past and what's happening now, the week after Charlie's funeral.

3. Have you ever been to Reading, PA?  You'll recognize the setting of this novel (even though she doesn't call the town Reading, so it's a fictional version).  The Pagoda even becomes a character in a few chapters ("A Brief Word From the Pagoda").  If what the Pagoda says is true about the percentage of children who go hungry in that town, it's chilling.

4. Shortest prologue ever.

5. Occasional short chapters from not only Charlie and the Pagoda, but also from Vera's father, Ken Dietz, an accountant who thinks flow charts can help you get through life, and who has actually managed to do an all right job as a single dad.  You can see how much he cares about Vera.

6.  Vera is a "pizza delivery technician" and the details about the pizza place are so right, I could  swear I smelled pizza sauce while reading this.  Vera's struggling to earn enough money to put herself through college and she still manages to keep up her grades.  She's tough, she's funny, and you find yourself cheering her on.

7.  A.S. King (also known as Amy) is a champion of Indie bookstores.  Woo hoo!

8.  And she's not afraid to tackle some very tough issues -- domestic abuse (Charlie's family), underage drinking, drugs, child porn -- yet it's never gratuitious. Despite the whisper of paranormalcy here (um, you know, Charlie keeps showing up and he's, uh... DEAD), this is a very realistic look at today's society.

9. Treehouses are cool.  Vera and Charlie built one in Charlie's yard when they were younger and Charlie was basically living in before he died.  And there's a secret hidden in Charlie's treehouse.

10.  I'm going out on a limb here, heh heh, and predicting that this book will win an award.  I'd wager at least a Printz honor.  If I'm wrong, tell the Pagoda, not me.

9 comments:

  1. Thanks, Frankie! It's a great read.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for this awesome post, Joanne! I'm so glad you enjoyed the book! PLEASE contact me if you want to do an event!
    *bow of gratitude*

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow, Amy. You found me. Thanks.

    And I will certainly talk to my events coordinator.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have this weird feeling we met. Was it you I gave an ARC of D100D to 2 years ago while I was still a shy little thing? (And I bought like 3 Shel Silverstein books while I was there. Darn bookstores. I never get out without buying something...especially at your place.) And as for #10. Did you know anyone can nominate? http://yalsa.ala.org/forms/printz.php
    Someone told me that today.
    I had no idea.

    Give credit to Mr. King for finding you. He is my ever-awesome internet filtering device.

    Hope to see you soon!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yes, Amy, we did meet. I remember! And that was indeed me that you gave the ARC of your first book to. I didn't have a blog then.

    Thanks for supporting an indie bookstore. Sorry you live so far away!

    No, I did NOT know that about nominating. I checked out the link and it looks like one has to have a library affiliation. Dang! What would they do if I filled it all out except for that? Anyway, I know plenty of librarians so I'll make sure one of them nominates your book, OK? I also added your blog to my list of Author Blogs That Are Fun To Read (left side).

    Thanks again. And thanks to your "internet filtering device," ha ha.

    ReplyDelete
  6. You're not really that far from me at all.
    I make far longer journeys to see some of my favorite indie bookstores. (Like Arizona, for one.

    So really--if you think you can use me down there at CCB, let me know!

    (And thank you for the thought, re: library friends! I was only passing that info on because someone had passed it on to me that same day. I admit I didn't look all that closely at the form. :/ )

    But back to the original whole darn reason I ended up here. THANK YOU for this review and for spreading the word! I really appreciate your support.

    Amy

    ReplyDelete
  7. And for fun, in case you haven't seen it yet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4KEteXzKzA

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hey, if it were up to me, I'd have you here tomorrow. But I'll talk to my events coordinator, ok?

    Love the video! Thanks.

    And, um, you're welcome. Obviously, I loved your book.

    ReplyDelete

YAY for comments! I read and appreciate each one and I always try to answer. All opinions welcome. Let's have a conversation!