I chose this book as part of my Award Winning Reads Challenge as it was a 2011 Michael L. Printz Honor Book, and it absolutely deserved the recognition.
Please Ignore Vera Dietz
From Goodreads:Vera's spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she's kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.
So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?
This book had me at hello. Vera is such a strong character and most of the book is told from her point of view. She lives with her father after her mother abandons them both. And Charlie, her best friend since childhood, dies before she can tell him that she loves him.
After Vera's soul searching and chapters alternating between the past and the present we come to understand the guilt she feels about Charlie's death as well as the childhood secrets both have kept about their own families and each other.
The icing on the cake for me was the author including chapters from Charlie's point of view, or his spirit at least as these were given after his death. After the things he'd done to Vera, it was difficult to believe she could still have feelings for him, but his chapters redeemed him and I liked that. I could understand why Vera had loved him which made the ending even more poignant.
This was not a feel good book, although it did have a lot of humorous moments, but I found enough hope and growth in the end to be a very satisfied reader. Highly recommended.