Destiny is one of those themes that seems to be present in quite a few of young adult novels. How it’s handled in A.S. King’s Please Ignore Vera Dietz was different from what I’ve read before. Even though there was quite a bit of swearing and some sexual deviancy, I’d still recommend this book for mature readers that are high school age.
The story is told in flashbacks and from different characters adding their commentary to the main plot points. The principal character is Vera. She begins her story at the funeral of her best friend Charlie. From this point the back story is told through flashbacks. These flashbacks are intermingled with Vera’s telling of what’s happening in the present.
The main conflict she faces is clearing Charlie’s name. The details aren’t clear, but Charlie’s death has some dark circumstances surrounding it and Vera hints that she knows who’s responsible and how she can prove he’s innocent. Since it’s a mystery I’ll leave this plot point for you to figure out.
The other conflicts Vera faces is how to avoid the destiny she feels she inherited from her parents. They were high schoolers who got pregnant before they graduated. Her father was a budding alcoholic and her mother had to strip to make ends meet. Vera feels like she is going make the same mistakes her parents made and avoids dealing them. Ultimately, by ignoring her parents mistakes she runs a bigger risk of making them.
She does start showing signs that she has inherited her father’s alcoholism. Luckily, her father intervenes and Vera is responsible enough to head her father’s advice and guidance. They both work together to face their problems and Vera realizes she has the choice to determine what her future will look like.
Vera’s struggle with destiny was certainly the best part of the novel. While she makes some bad choices, it’s nothing over the top. In fact, I can imagine actual teenagers making the same choice. I think many kids should could learn a lot from Vera’s journey of discovering who she is. Our parents may give us genetic tendencies, it’s up to us to decide how those tendencies are going to affect our lives.