Next up is a 2011 Printz honoree, Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King. After I read this book, I immediately read the other two King books in my library: Ask the Passengers and Everybody Sees the Ants. Needless to say, King is a new favorite author. I love her kind of magic realism where the protagonist's world is normal except for one or two teensy things. In Vera Dietz' life, that thing is the thousand transparent, two-dimensional, expandable Charlies who show up at the worst possible moments.
The book opens with this prologue:
Before I died, I hid my secrets in the Master Oak.
This book is about my best friend, Vera Dietz, who eventually found them.
(the pickle on Vera's Big Mac)
To say my friend died is one thing.
To say my friend screwed me over and then died five months later is another.
(high school senior and pizza deliver technician)
Just before Vera's best friend Charlie dies, someone sets fire to the pet store. Charlie is blamed and his thousand ghosts want Vera to clear his name. But in order to do that, she has to face her true feelings for Charlie and the wreck he made of them.
A. S. King unveils this story through multiple points of view, including Charlie, Vera, her recovered alcoholic father who makes flow charts to help him sort out his daughter and an abandoned pagoda that provides witty commentary about the teens who hang out in its parking lot. King has a unique voice and she tells stories that are hard to forget.
I write middle grade and young adult books with a magical twist, and I'm represented by the fabulous Leslie Zampetti at Open Book Literary.
Lorin Oberweger - Freelance Editor