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April Book Suggestions: Novels In Verse

April is National Poetry Month, so why not read a novel in verse.  
Like any novel, they can encompass a variety of genres.  The can be humorous, tragic, terrifying, and more.  There are even authors who specialize in novels in verse (Ellen Hopkins anyone?).


Below is a list of only some of the novels in verse we have in our collection.  Be sure to check out the display for more novels in verse or ask a staff member for help.


amiriAmiri and Odette: A Love Story by Walter Dean Myers

The acclaimed author uproots the 19th-century classical ballet Swan Lake from its enchanted world of mist-filled lakes and palaces and plunks it solidly down into the dark, danger-filled Swan Lake Projects. He presents a modern, urban retelling in verse of the ballet in which brave Amiri falls in love with beautiful Odette and fights evil Big Red for her on the streets of the Swan Lake Projects.  Myers retelling is accompanied by collage artwork by Javaka Steptoe.


Because I am Furniture by Thalia Chaltasfurniture

The youngest of three siblings, fourteen-year-old Anke feels both relieved and neglected that her father abuses her brother and sister but ignores her, but when she catches him with one of her friends, she finally becomes angry enough to take action.  Incendiary, devastating, yet—in total—offering empowerment and hope, Chaltas’s poems leave an indelible mark.


bronxBronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes

While studying the Harlem Renaissance, students at a Bronx high school read aloud poems they’ve written, revealing their innermost thoughts and fears to their formerly clueless classmates.  Readers will enjoy the lively, smart voices that talk bravely about real issues and secret fears.


The Crossover by Kwame Alexandercrossover

Fourteen-year-old twin basketball stars Josh and Jordan wrestle with highs and lows on and off the court as their father ignores his declining health.  The  poems dodge and weave with the  speed of a point guard driving for the  basket, mixing basketball action with vocabulary-themed poems, newspaper clippings, and Josh’s sincere first-person accounts that swing from moments of swagger-worthy triumph to profound pain. This verse novel delivers a real emotional punch before the  final buzzer.  And stay tuned for Kwame Alexander’s new book “Booked” release on April 5th.


freakFreakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

Told from three viewpoints, seventeen-year-old Brendan, a wrestler, struggles to come to terms with his place on the transgender spectrum while Vanessa, the girl he loves, and Angel, a transgender acquaintance, try to help.  Though the verse doesn’t always shine, it’s varied, with concrete poems and duets keeping the voices lively. This gutsy, tripartite poem explores a wider variety of identities–cis-, trans-, genderqueer–than a simple transgender storyline, making it stand out.


One by Sarah Crossanone

Despite problems at home, sixteen-year-old conjoined twins Tippi and Grace are loving going to school for the first time and making real friends when they learn that a cardiac problem will force them to have separation surgery, which they have never before considered.   In asking important questions about how bodies shape identity, Crossan ’s novel achieves a striking balance between sentimentality and sisterly devotion.


sharkShark Girl by Kelly Bingham

After a shark attack causes the amputation of her right arm, fifteen-year-old Jane, an aspiring artist, struggles to come to terms with her loss and the changes it imposes on her day-to-day life and her plans for the future.  Jane’s roiling emotions come across more strongly and clearly within the spare but free-flowing poetry than might have been possible with a straight prose treatment.


Three Rivers Rising: A Novel of the Johnstown Flood by Jame Richardsriver

Sixteen-year-old Celestia is a wealthy member of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, where she meets and falls in love with Peter, a hired hand who lives in the valley below, and by the time of the torrential rains that lead to the disastrous Johnstown flood of 1889, she has been disowned by her family and is staying with him in Johnstown. Includes an author’s note and historical timeline.


danceA Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman

In India, a girl who excels at Bharatanatyam dance refuses to give up after losing a leg in an accident.  This exceptional novel, told entirely in verse, captures beautifully the emotions of a girl forced to deal with a number of challenges and how she overcomes them on her way to becoming a confident young woman. It is sure to appeal to readers who are also trying to find their place in the world.

And now for the queens of YA novels in verse:

crank psche hideous

Ellen Hopkins

She has written the Crank Trilogy (Crank, Glass, and Fallout), a series based her oldest daughter’s story of addiction to crystal meth.  Her Burned series (Burned, Smoke, Impulse, and Perfect) tells the story of a young woman trying to escape her abusive father.  Finally, Tricks and Traffick tells the story of five young people who fall into a life of prostitution.  Her novels delve into reasons why these situations and exist and the very real stuggles of those trying to escape their circumstances.

Sonya Sones

She a written numerous novels in verse about a variety of people and topics.  From the death of a parent and complete upheaval of one’s life (One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies) to mental health (Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy) and the daily grind of high school (What My Mother Doesn’t Know).

Francesca Lia Block

Whether greek myths (Psych is a Dress) or growing up in Hollywood (How to (un)cage a Girl), she always brings her unique voice, lush imagery, and a little bit of punk rock.

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