"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx

Monday, January 17, 2011

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

What we have here is a perfect title for a book, Please Ignore Vera Dietz or it could be Please Ignore, Vera Dietz. Either way, there is a whole lot of ignoring going on in this book, but fortunately for us and for Ms. King, the Printz selection committee did not ignore this book as it was selected as a Printz Honor book last week.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz  made it onto my radar too late to add it to my Mock Printz list of books but one reader, who checked out the book from another library, told me that she thought this book could possibly be the year's winner.  After reading it I see why.  There are several really cool literary things that happen in this book.  First we know right from the start that Vera Dietz's best friend Charlie is dead and he probably died from questionable circumstances. We also know that Vera is ignoring what she knows and is stuffing her feelings by drinking and being perpetually busy.  The story of Charlie and Vera's friendship evolves through short chapters from earlier events in their lives. Fortunately, since there is so much movement back and forth in time, the chapter titles leave very little question what time period and date the event occurs in.  For example one chapter is titled: "History-Age Thirteen-Summer." The chapter titles even tell us who will be the narrator of the chapter: Vera, Charlie (even though he's dead), Ken Dietz (Vera's dad), and even the Pagoda (yes, a building!)

A second cool literary device it uses is how Vera incorporates the vocabulary words she is learning for her English class into the context of the story.  But she doesn't do it sneaky like some SAT prep book might, she does it right out front: "Here's me using exacerbate in a sentence. Greg thinks he helps on busy nights, but really, he only exacerbates the problem." (p. 152)

Another thing that A.S. (Amy) King does that seems to be a winning combination for Printz selection, she uses literary allusions to a classic book, Lord of the Flies.  Not many but just enough to give the book a bit of authority and let us know that her character Vera is no academic slough. But, come to think of it, Lord of the Flies is one of those books I never read in school and should have, so perhaps there are more allusions to it that I didn't catch.  I believe there is a challenge for me in this paragraph! Hm..m..

Now I challenge you to read it and see what you think.  I should warn you, however, to keep a hankie nearby.  You may need it.  I did.

*This book is part of the Printz Project Challenge and also one of the 10 books I hoped to get to in 2011.

10 comments:

  1. I awarded you the Stylish Blog Award. You can read the details here: http://jennielyse.com/stylish-blogger-award/.

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  2. There is just something about this review... I love it! Witty, thoughtful, to the point but still very informative. So far I've been ignoring Vera Dietz... oops... but your review has got me convinced!

    Thank you :)

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  3. I've had my eye on this one. Thanks for the review.
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

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  4. This is a great review. I'm like you. I feel like people comment on my meme's and other posts, but not much on my reviews. I have tried to comment more on people's reviews because of this. I've read this book, reviewed it, and really enjoyed it.

    I also agree with you, in that I try to keep my reviews short, and spoiler free. I try not to tell the whole story, just enough to make my points.

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  5. What a terrific review! I like how you point out the literary devices used and give us a sense of the plot without spoiling it for us. As I mention in my "Read My Review," I'm not much of a YA reader...but you make this one sound really interesting!

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  6. This is a really great event! This was a really great review and I’m excited to add your recommendation to my TBR list. It sounds very unique and I love books that can still my emotions. Have a great week!

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  7. Wonderful review. It brought a new book to my attention and makes me want to read something that I would otherwise probably have passed over. The use of words reminds me of A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly (which I just finished). It also centers around a mysterious death, but otherwise the two books seem quite different. I'll have to get a hold of this one.

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  8. I have been meaning to pick this up... Honestly, though, I didn't really know what it was about--I just kinda saw the hype. Now, with the Printz Honor, I guess I DO have to check it out! I love the author's name as it's abbreviated... ASKING! I thought that it may have just been a pen name.

    I wonder how much I remember from Lord of the Flies...

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  9. Thank you for pointing out this review. You do have some readers here commenting, so the word got out a bit about how much you enjoyed this book, and that you recommend it to others. I am wondering if people disregard it because of the unusual title, and don't take the time to find out what it is about. Your style of review is more handy for a potential reader than a back cover scan, by the way. Some give away too much information, as do some bloggers. Anyway, great review! Rae

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  10. Great review! I had never heard of this book before but I'm definitely intrigued now and want to read it!

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