Vera grew up next door to Charlie and they’ve been best friends since always. But then Charlie betrayed her and which was followed by his untimely death. Vera knows things about Charlie, and how he died, and about his ex-girlfriend’s involvement. Vera is just trying to get through life now though. She works a full time pizza delivery job, goes to high school full time, has a mother who left her and her father years ago, a dead (former) best friend, and drinks for “coping.” Charlie though has every intention of haunting Vera until she clears his name. And the town’s Pagoda (what many see as a monstrosity) jumps in every once in a while too, with “fun” town facts, “flying paper airplanes from here is littering” and an occasional bit of insight.
Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King, is mostly told from Vera’s point of view, allowing the reader to see Charlie as she did before he betrayed her, after he did, and then after he died. However, Charlie, her dad, and yes, a Pagoda, chime in every so often. This allows for the more important characters to be more fully developed and therefore understood. The boy Vera has a crush on, James, never gets a chapter, and while there wasn’t much wrong with him he just couldn’t catch this reader’s interest. The full story unfolds by switching from present day to “histories” in varying chapters, so the reader sees Charlie and Vera as they were and what they became. King presents a book with friend issues, family issues, death, and concerns about the future in a way that felt genuine and not over the top. Not a light read, but definitely an interesting realistic fiction book with a dash of mystery tied to it (the mystery is purely for the reader Vera always knew what happened).