Vera Violet by Melissa Anne Peterson
Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Expected publication: February 4th 2020 by Counterpoint Press
About the Book:
Set against the backdrop of a decaying Pacific Northwest lumber town, Vera Violet is a debut that explores themes of poverty, violence, and environmental degradation as played out in the young lives of a group of close-knit friends. Melissa Anne Peterson’s voice is powerful and poetic, her vision unflinching. Vera Violet recounts the dark story of a rough group of teenagers growing up in a twisted rural logging town. There are no jobs. There is no sense of safety. But there is a small group of loyal friends, a truck waiting with the engine running, a pair of boots covered in blood, and a hot 1911 with a pearl pistol grip. Vera Violet O’Neely’s home is in the Pacific Northwest—not the glamorous scene of coffee bars and craft beers, but the hardscrabble region of busted pickups and broken dreams. Vera’s mother has left, her father is unstable, and her brother is deeply troubled. Against this gritty background, Vera struggles to establish a life of her own, a life fortified by her friends and her hard-won love. But the relentless poverty coupled with the twin lures of crystal meth and easy money soon shatter fragile alliances. Her world violently torn apart, Vera is forced to leave everything behind and move to St. Louis, Missouri. She settles into a job at an inner-city school where she encounters the same disarray of community. And alone in her small apartment, Vera grieves. She thinks about her family and the love of her life, Jimmy James Blood. In this brilliant, explosive debut, Melissa Anne Peterson establishes herself as a fresh, raw voice, a writer to be reckoned with.
He didn’t care much about who was around or what they did. He paid attention to his alcohol, his needles, and global politics.
This book reads like a series of vignettes and author Melissa Anne Peterson sets out to illuminate a small town in the Pacific Northwest and one of its inhabitants, Vera Violet O’Neely.
Readers are the voyeurs in Vera Violet. While we peep into the life of this troubled teenage girl we see her dealing with all sorts of problems... and we see that Vera and her family are, for the most part, considered to be a rather unpleasant and unpredictable force of nature. But as our knowledge of Vera increases so does Vera's self-awareness. The lessons she learns are sometimes painful and always ruthlessly honest.
I loved how my understanding of the characters deepened with each new chapter. Initially seen in an unflattering light, some characters changed as the light shone upon them from different angles.
This is a little gem, although I can see some readers believing that nothing ever happens in it. I found this book to be mesmerizing and to contain one brilliant character study after another. Quiet, unassuming writing can sometimes wield great power and beauty, and this is exactly what I found in the pages of Vera Violet.
Thank you NetGalley, Melissa Anne Peterson and Counterpoint Press for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an impartial review; all opinions are my own.