Book's themes still relevant today

Willie Campbell reviews 'Pleas Ignore Vera Dietz' written by A.S. King and published by Text Publishing.

A.S.King has produced an enviable stable of Young Adult novels that are consistently well received.

Vera Dietz was first published in 2010 and has been banned in school libraries, had discussion material developed for compulsory inclusion in school English classes, and awarded the prestigious Michael L Printz Honor Prize in 2011.

This is its first release by an Australasian publisher.

The book is as relevant now as it was in 2010, exploring themes which still require attention.

Bullying, grief, abandonment, dysfunctional families are ever with us and King uses the language and insights of young people alongside Greek chorus-style comments from Pagoda Pizza, where Vera is a delivery person, to put these before us in a very accessible way.

Vera's best friend Charlie dies in dark circumstances.

He and Vera have been through much together and Vera is guilty of being the person who does and says nothing and so keeps the dysfunction alive.

After his death she looks in his cigar box and finds important information on paper napkins.

Eventually she becomes brave, asks her father to go to the police with her and reveal her information.

She shifts from being the invisible Vera Dietz to being the invincible Vera Dietz.

Vera and her dad bury their differences - a happy ending.

Willie Campbell is a Dunedin educator

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