Poetry can come in different formats. One popular format that is continuing to rise in the genre is novel in verse. Like general poetry, verse novels are musical and provide readers with an emotional experience, just as they would in prose format. It also gives readers a chance to hear various voices, stories, and perspectives, one of my favorite things when I read the novel in verse.
So if you are looking to take a chance and read this exciting genre (or you are already reading them but looking for verse recs), here are some verse reads I compiled that I feel should be on your radar:
The Girl and the Goddess: Stories and Poems of Divine Wisdom by Nikita Gill
I have talked about this powerful book constantly so that means it has to be good! This book is just so raw and emotional that will be left enthralled after finishing the book. If you are also looking for a great example of how novel in verse can have a powerful impact while telling a compelling story, then this is the book for you.
Blood Moon by Lucy Cuthew
A taboo subject told in thought-provoking way….sign me up! Here we meet Frankie, a lover of physics and astronomy. During her first sexual experience with high school cutie, Benjamin, Frankie gets her period. They decide not to make a big deal about it: it is only blood. But when a disgusting and gruesome meme goes viral, Frankie’s world and sense of security implode with a click of a smartphone. Who can she confide in? Harriet’s own social media debacle and Frankie’s response to it caused a rift in their friendship and Frankie is sure Benjamin is responsible for the meme. As Frankie’s online shaming takes complete control of her life, Frankie starts to wonder if her reputation and her life would ever recover. This amazing novel in verse is the conversation starter that our society needs.
Here is the Beehive by Sarah Crossan
In her first book in the adult genre, Crossan manages it with her unique writing style and beautiful choice of words that turns this into one breathtaking narrative. Novels in verse are not something that is just for YA novels and this bold step that Crossan shows that the adult narrative can be just as compelling and engaging as a story written in prose format.
The Girl Who Became a Tree: A Story Told in Poems by Joseph Coelho
My love for novels in verse continues with another book that is both heartbreaking and inspirational that really touches the human soul. Partnered with breathtaking illustrations that are both haunting and enchanting, this CILIP Carnegie Longlisted book (and I’m not surprised why it was nominated) brings out the really hard truths of the grieving process and the feelings a person may have during it is so realistic that the reader will have a hard time not feeling what the main character is going through. I also love the tie in with mythology, that was a very nice touch and actually added a deeper meaning to legend. Such a beautiful and profound book did with innovation and cleverness but keeping true to a compelling story.
The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
A thought-provoking and emotional novel in verse about a young boy coming to terms with his identity as a gay mixed-raced teen. He is finally able to find his wings when he goes to college…and becomes a drag queen. A bold interpretation of embracing your uniqueness. Dean Atta created a beautiful story that conveyed so much emotion and passion that any reader can identify with. Even though it was written in verse, it was done perfectly. Readers can really identify with the characters because of this method.
Run Rebel by Manjeet Mann
It was beautiful, heartbreaking and real…just so many powerful feelings in one. When Amber runs, it is the only time she feels happy and free, especially from her claustrophobic life. She must deal with family obligations, particularly from her father. Her father wants her to be the “dutifully “daughter, like accepting an arranged marriage, just like her sister. So running is Amber’s form of a rebellion. But now, Amber wants more. She wants more for her mother, her sister and herself. It is time for a revolution. But as always, freedom comes at a price. This innovative novel, which is filled with rhythm and heart, will make you fall in love with the “novel-in-verse” genre.
Wrecked by Louisa Reid
Joe and Imogen seem like the perfect couple — they’ve been in a relationship for years and are the envy of their friends at school. But after accidentally becoming involved a tragic fatal accident, they become embroiled in a situation out of their control, and Joe and Imogen’s relationship becomes slowly unravelled until the truth is out there for all to see … Structured around a dramatic and tense court case, the reader becomes both judge and jury in a stunning and page-turning novel of uncovering secrets and lies — who can be believed? (Credit: Guppy Books)
If I Tell You The Truth by Jasmine Kaur
In this stunning sophomore novel, acclaimed writer Jasmin Kaur explores trauma, fear, courage, community, and the healing power of love in its many forms.
Kiran flees her home in Punjab for a fresh start in Canada after a sexual assault leaves her pregnant. But overstaying her visa and living undocumented brings its own perils for both her and her daughter, Sahaara.
Sahaara would do anything to protect her mother. When she learns the truth about Kiran’s past, she feels compelled to seek justice–even if it means challenging a powerful and dangerous man. (Credit: HarperCollins)
Bearmouth by Liz Hyder
Life in Bearmouth will never change – at least that’s what people say. They work hard to bring wealth to the Master, toiling in dark mines and brutal conditions for six long days each week.
When young friends Newt and Devlin start to question the system, they set in motion a chain of events that could destroy their entire world.
But freedom is worth fighting for. (Credit: Pushkin Children’s Books)
Home is Not a Country by Safia Elhillo
Nima doesn’t feel understood. By her mother, who grew up far away in a different land. By her white suburban town, which feels both dangerous and familiar. At least she has her childhood friend Haitham, with whom she can let her guard down and be herself.
Until she doesn’t. As the ground is pulled out from under her, Nima must grapple with the phantom of a life not chosen, the name her parents didn’t give her at birth: Yasmeen. But that other name, that other girl, might just be more real than Nima knows. And more hungry. (Credit: Make Me A World)
Muted by Tami Charles
For seventeen-year-old Denver, music is everything. Writing, performing, and her ultimate goal: escaping her very small, very white hometown.
So Denver is more than ready on the day she and her best friends Dali and Shak sing their way into the orbit of the biggest R&B star in the world, Sean “Mercury” Ellis. Merc gives them everything: parties, perks, wild nights — plus hours and hours in the recording studio. Even the painful sacrifices and the lies the girls have to tell are all worth it.
Until they’re not.
Denver begins to realize that she’s trapped in Merc’s world, struggling to hold on to her own voice. As the dream turns into a nightmare, she must make a choice: lose her big break, or get broken. (Credit: Scholastic Press)
Anything by Sarah Crossan
I always like to consider Crossan as the Queen of Novel in Verse because every book she puts out is pure gold and packed with emotion and compelling storytelling that stays with the readers always. So apart from the title that I listed above, here are more titles by Crossan that you should definitely give a try: