Please Ignore Vera Dietz
By A.S. King
Alfred A. Knopf, 2010. 326 pgs. Teen fiction
Vera Dietz's best friend Charlie has died, which is bad. But before he died, he betrayed her, which is worse. And now his ghosts (yes, plural) are haunting her, which might be worst of all. Vera knows more about Charlie's death than she has admitted to anyone, and while she doesn't want to deal with Charlie in any form, his ghosts are pushing her to find out what he needed to tell her before he died and to clear his name.
This book opens after Charlie's death but flashbacks help readers see the development of Vera and Charlie's friendship, as well as the deterioration of their friendship. Vera, who has always tried to stay out of the spotlight, to be invisible, has to decide who she's going to be without her best friend--and what she's going to do about his death, while at the same time dealing with the fact that Charlie comes from an abusive family and her own mother left her and her dad when she was twelve.
This book is jam-packed with issues and problems, which in some cases might overwhelm a book, but in this case, they really worked together to have realistic, round characters. The book was gripping, and as more pieces came to light about Charlie, Vera, and their past, I kept wanting more and more. This is not a book for the faint-hearted, and thematic material might make it more suitable for older teens, but it's well-written and powerful.