Vernon is a typical American teenage boy living in Martirio, Texas. He spends a lot of time fantasizing about the panties of a particular girl. He suffers the abuse of dominant social groups at his high school. He struggles to maintain a sense of normality in his broken home. Only one day his friend Jesus reaches his breaking point and things get out of hand. Suddenly Vernon is caught in a maelstrom of controversy when the nation in its grief points a guilty finger. He must justify his innocence by wading through the media-hype determined to crucify him without the help of his friends and family who are caught up in their own banal problems. Vernon sets out on a surreal escape from America. Pierre creates a highly original voice in this dark, funny and incredibly clever novel. The structure is somewhere between satire and a dream-like logic where Vernon stumbles upon a number of colorful characters that distract him from his goal. While Vernon himself isn’t especially likeable, his commentary on America with all his clever twists of language is hilarious to read. Vernon and his mother have an uncomfortable but loving relationship. While on death row, Vernon’s mother is more concerned about the delivery of a new almond toned refrigerator. Vernon’s ongoing analysis of the relationship between mother and son is devastating. More than its political commentary, I think this novel makes a powerful statement about familial relations. There has been a lot of attention paid recently to gun control and high school massacres. Pierre manages to make a moving statement about American values using the voice of a decidedly average boy caught in extraordinary circumstances. This isn’t a cynical treatise. For all it’s bitterness, Vernon God Little has a lot of hope.
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