Seventeen Year-Old Vera Shines in Dear Fang, With Love

Dear Fang With Love, Rufi ThorpeFiction
Released May 24, 2016
303 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Purchased (Publisher: Knopf)


Seventeen year-old protagonist Vera shines in this story of teen angst, mental illness, and family history.

Plot Summary

After a psychotic break at a party, seventeen year-old Vera accompanies her father (who has been absent for most of her life) on an European history tour to Lithuania, where her paternal grandmother grew up.

Why I Read It

This novel came recommended to me by a number of sources: Catherine at Gilmore Guide to Books, Kerry at Entomology of a Bookworm, and the ladies at Book Riot’s All the Books podcast. It was only after reading it that I realized the author got her MFA at my alma mater (University of Virginia).

Major Themes

Teen angst, mental illness, family history, the Holocaust, father/daughter relationships

What I Liked

  • It’s difficult to pinpoint what this book is truly about because it’s about teen angst, mental illness, and family history and relationships without being overly about any one of those things. They all kind of balance each other out into a story that ends up being about the people (mainly Vera and her father).
  • I adored Vera. She’s precocious, insightful, quirky, troubled, yet sometimes comes across as the surprising voice of reason.
  • The story is told from Vera’s father’s perspective and through Vera’s emails to her boyfriend back at home, Fang. Vera’s emails open a large window into Vera’s mind, which, it turns out, is an intriguing and thought-provoking place to be.

I finally did sleep for a little while, only it was like the difference between Pringles and actual chips, like someone took sleep and then put it through a horrible industrial machine, made it into paste, and re-formed it and baked it into a shape that was supposed to look like sleep but was not anything even close.

  • Throughout the book, an “is she or isn’t she” vibe surrounding Vera’s mental health provides suspense. It had me paying very close attention to her emails to Fang to try to make my own judgments.

What I Didn’t Like

  • There is a bit of a lull through the middle, when the story gets stuck meandering around Vera and her father’s European history tour and the other people on it.

A Defining Quote

That was the thing about Vera. She was always coming at things from an unexpected angle.

Good for People Who Like…

Quirky characters, character-driven novels, teen angst, fathers and daughters, unconventional families, gorgeous writing

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  1. hillary wrote:

    I will love to see how the authors handles the mental illness portion as I have bipolar myself. I am on the waiting list at the library.

    Posted 6.30.16 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I didn’t realize you had would definitely be an interesting read for you and I’d love to hear your perspective on how they handle that portion.

      Posted 7.4.16 Reply
  2. Both of my maternal grandparents immigrated from Lithuania so I feel a connection to this book already.

    I didn’t know you went to UVA. We’re Hokies around here. 🙂

    Posted 6.30.16 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I didn’t realize you were a Hokie! We have some Hokies in our family by marriage too…both my brothers wives are Hokies.

      Posted 7.4.16 Reply
  3. Naomi wrote:

    I generally don’t love reading about teens, but some books are worth it – and this sounds like one of them!

    Posted 6.30.16 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I find it really hard to find books that do teens well, but I love it when they get it right. This one gets it right, I think!

      Posted 7.4.16 Reply
  4. Carmen wrote:

    I sounds like great reading.

    Posted 6.30.16 Reply
  5. Tara wrote:

    So…I think I’m going to have to read this one, as well as Before the Fall! I’m so glad you enjoyed both of these and thank you for the recommendations! Perfect for summer reading, my favorite reading time of year.

    Posted 6.30.16 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I hope you get to it! Really loved Vera.

      Posted 7.4.16 Reply
  6. Beth wrote:

    Like you mentioned, I’ve seen practically every book blogger I know raving about this one. I tried the audio but couldn’t get into it so I’ll have to try the print version. This my first visit to your blog and I love the outline format for the review– really cool! Thanks 🙂

    Posted 6.30.16 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Thank you – I try to write my full reviews to you can easily scan them 🙂

      And fiction is generally always tough for me on audio..I have trouble concentrating. I’d try the print version…maybe get it from the library to see if it works for you before committing?

      Posted 7.4.16 Reply
  7. Catherine wrote:

    Glad you liked this one- and had time review it in the midst of so much activity!

    I’m with you on the family history stuff- for some it was really important, but it slowed things down for me. I also loved Fang’s e-mail to her father- trying so hard to be respectful but honest.

    Posted 6.30.16 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I loved that too! And Vera’s emails were some of the highlights of the book for me!

      Posted 7.4.16 Reply
  8. Julianne wrote:

    Yup, I have this book and it sounds like I should read it. Extra points bc I’m vaguely Lithuanian and have never read anything about Lithuania haha.

    Posted 7.5.16 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Seriously?!! You definitely should read it…I knew nothing about Lithuania going in and learned some interesting stuff. And love the “vaguely” = haha!

      Posted 7.7.16 Reply
  9. Amanda wrote:

    I loved this! I was really unsure how I’d feel about the book with the shifts in perspective but I appreciated her father’s portions so much. Vera was just perfectly done.

    Posted 7.8.16 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I did too – really loved her Dad and appreciated his perspective!

      Posted 7.11.16 Reply

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