Vera Violet

Counterpoint. Feb. 2020. 256p. ISBN 9781640092327. pap. $16.95. F
DEBUT Vera Violet O’Neely comes of age surrounded by poverty, drug use, and violence. She tries to build a life for herself and her family despite all odds in a small Pacific Northwest town ravaged by logging and tourism. When there isn’t an industry left to support the families in David, WA, many of them turn to crystal meth production. Vera and brother Colin cling to the hope they can change their narratives and move beyond what they were born into. Yet as Vera’s tale weaves among youth, adolescence, and young adulthood, she recounts the tragedies that riddled her upbringing. Each chapter reads as a vignette, similar to Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street, but with more despair. Vera Violet eventually travels east to Montana to try to start again, but her past continues to haunt her.
VERDICT Peterson’s debut offers a realistic look at drug-riddled, poverty-stricken towns and lives yet is a difficult read, occasionally overwritten with near-constant metaphors and incredible sadness.

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