We’re nearing the end of National Poetry Month, so I found it fitting to write a post featuring my favorite verse novels. If you haven’t read many verse novels, or any at all, you might want to view this post as a verse novels starter kit. I’ll admit verse novels aren’t for everyone, but when they’re done well it might surprise you when you find yourself attached to a character or moved by the imagery created through so few words.
My first novel in verse was Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff (Goodreads), which I read for my college Young Adult Lit class. It’s been a few years since I’ve read that book, but I still love it and remember it vividly. From there I started reading Ellen Hopkins’ books which began with Crank (Goodreads). I moved on to Sonya Sones (her books on Goodreads) next. Once I started reading verse novels I was on a mission to find more, not only because I adore them, but because they soon became very popular in my classroom. For struggling readers, being able to conquer one of Ellen Hopkins’ books is like a point of pride because they’re “such big books.” And I don’t say that to demean their experience; I say that because her books, along with other verse novels, create more confident readers.
The list I’m providing is here because I love these novels and want to promote them. It’s also here because I hope more readers will give verse novels a chance. This list will also help fill in some gaps for those who already read and love novels in verse. If you have some recommendations please share them in the comments!
I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder (Goodreads) (My Review): This was the first book I read by Lisa Schroeder. I read it in one sitting and was completely awed by her writing. I still need to read Far From You, but I’ve read all of her other books. I’ll continue to read every book she writes because she’s so incredibly talented.
Sold by Patricia McCormick (Goodreads): I read Sold before I started teaching, so I don’t have a review for it. Patricia McCormick is one of my favorite authors because she spends so much time researching the topic for her novels. Consequently, she creates powerful novels that stick with you for some time after finishing one of her books, much like Sold did. It’s written in vignettes and packs a quite the emotional punch.
Love & Leftovers by Sarah Tregay (Goodreads) (My Review): What a debut! I hope Sarah Tregay writes more novels in verse because I adored Love & Leftovers, and if the fact that I haven’t seen it in my classroom for months means anything, my students love this debut as well. Sarah Tregay took a familiar topic (exploring love and friendship) and created it into a verse novel that’s both humorous and touching. Love & Leftovers has been featured all over my blog via my review, a student review, and more so I really hope you read this one.
Exposed by Kimberly Marcus (Goodreads) (My Review): This novel is hard to discuss without spoilers. I can say, however, that when I read Exposed I often thought of different books written by Ellen Hopkins. I’ve handed Kimberly Marcus’s debut to my Hopkins fans and received positive feedback. I’ve also used Exposed as a stepping stone to Ellen Hopkins which has gone over well also. Regardless, it’s a fantastic and powerful novel about friendship, family, and loyalty.
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai (Goodreads): Thanhha Lai has received some well-deserved recognition including the National Book Award and as a Newberry Honor Book. Inside Out & Back Again is a story of overcoming adversity, discovering a new world, and the importance of family. It’s a book that both middle grade and young adult readers will appreciate because despite the age and circumstance of the main character, many of us have felt different and misunderstood. It’s a beautiful novel and certainly one worth reading.
** More Verse Novels Worth Reading **
The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan (Goodreads)
Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall (Goodreads)
May B. by Caroline Starr Rose (Goodreads)