A.S. King is the award-winning author of young adult books including "Reality Boy, " "Ask the Passengers, Everybody Sees the Ants, "and "The Dust of 100 Dogs. "She has visited hundreds of schools to talk about empowerment, self-reliance and self-awareness. Find more at www.as-king.com.
Gr 9 Up-A. S. King's 2011 Printz Honor book (Knopf, 2010) is expertly crafted and richly performed primarily by Lynde Houck with additional chapter perspectives narrated by Mark Deakins, Ryan Gesell, and Arthur Morey. Vera Dietz, a high school senior, knows what happened to her best friend, Charlie, the night he died. But she's not ready to face the truth while she's still dealing with the scars from Charlie's betrayal. As Vera tries to move on, she is haunted by varying numbers of ghostly Charlies that she sees, hears, and feels. Charlie wants Vera to tell the truth, clear his name, and forgive him. With chapters reflecting the perspectives of Vera's father, Charlie, and the town's landmark Pagoda, listeners are afforded a more complete picture of the situation than Vera has. As the heartbreaking reality is revealed, listeners will feel Vera's emotions as her perspective begins to subtly change and she moves through the anger, the betrayal, and the guilt. The performers are realistic in their portrayals, audibly exposing each character's vulnerabilities. Listeners will feel the weight being lifted off of Vera's shoulders and her heart in this moving, poignant story that shows how deeply people can both love and hurt each other and ultimately find a level of redemption.-Stephanie A. Squicciarini, Fairport Public Library, NY (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Reviews, starred review, September 15, 2010: "A harrowing but ultimately redemptive tale of adolescent angst gone awry. Vera and Charlie are lifelong buddies whose relationship is sundered by high school and hormones; by the start of their senior year, the once-inseparable pair is estranged. In the aftermath of Charlie's sudden death, Vera is set adrift by grief, guilt and the uncomfortable realization that the people closest to her are still, in crucial ways, strangers. As with King's first novel, "The Dust of 100 Dogs" (2009), this is chilling and challenging stuff, but her prose here is richly detailed and wryly observant. The story unfolds through authentic dialogue and a nonlinear narrative that shifts fluidly among Vera's present perspective, flashbacks that illuminate the tragedies she's endured, brief and often humorous interpolations from "the dead kid," Vera's father and even the hilltop pagoda that overlooks their dead-end Pennsylvania town. The author depicts the journey to overcome a legacy of poverty, violence, addiction and ignorance as an arduous one, but Vera's path glimmers with grace and hope." "(Fiction. 14 & up)"Publishers Weekly, starred review, October 11, 2010: "Beginning with the funeral of Charlie Kahn, high school senior Vera's neighbor and former best friend, this chilling and darkly comedic novel offers a gradual unfolding of secrets about the troubled teenagers, their families, and their town. Though Charlie's death hangs heavily over Vera, she has the road ahead mapped out: pay her way through community college with her job delivering pizza while living "cheap" in her father's house. But first she has to face her fractured relationship with her father, a recovering alcoholic who worries about her drinking; the absence of her mother, who left six years earlier; and the knowledge that she could clear Charlie's suspected guilt in a crime. Vera is the primary narrator, though her father, Charlie (posthumously), and e