Sunday, March 14, 2021

Recommended Reading: Novels in Verse

As some of you may know, I recently attended WriteOnCon, an online writing conference, where I attended a wonderful session by Megan E. Freeman on writing novels in verse. For a while now, I’ve been in love with the style, as is evident from my previous post, 7 Reasons I Enjoy Novels in Verse, and I would like to some day write one of my own.

For now, though, I thought I’d share some of the ones I enjoyed in hopes of convincing more readers to fangirl/fanboy along with me. My recommendations are by no means extensive, and some readers may argue that some novels might have been better in prose rather than verse, but I enjoyed them for their form.

The following books are organized by authors’ last names.

1.   Audacity by Melanie Crowder (young adult; see book review)

You will lose,
I say
if you try to strike
on your own without us.
[...] It is only by standing together
—men and women—
that we can ever hope
to outlast them.

Personally, I find it easier to learn about historical events when I can connect with the people and their stories. This book focuses on the story of Clara Lemlich, who fought for women’s rights in the workplace. I may be making the book sound dull, but the story is far from it.

2.   Somewhere Among by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu (middle grade)

A story about American citizens set in a foreign country? Yes, please! Though I’m not Japanese and haven’t been to Asia just yet, I could still relate to the characters, especially when it comes to the difficulty of time zones. Not to mention the story is also historical fiction set during 2001—wait, did I just call something that happened in my lifetime “historical?” Please excuse me while I have an existential crisis.

3.   Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton (MG; see book review)

“On this clear and moonless night,
Mama and I wrap up in our winter clothes
and go outside to watch and listen.
The trees beyond our backyard form a torn-paper line
between the snow and this sky
filled with stars.”

Of all the novels in verse I’ve read, this one is one of the most memorable. A delightful story about Mimi, a young girl who dreams of becoming an astronaut and moves with her family to a new town. Not to mention the gorgeous imagery, which is one of the many reasons I love poetry.


4.   Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai (MG)

“Would be simpler
if English
and life
were logical.”

When I see people recommend novels in verse, I tend to see this one recommended all the time. Not to mention, it’s a Newbery Honor Winner, so of course it gets a lot of attention. But it’s sooo good, so I won’t complain. The story focuses on Há, a young immigrant who moves to America from Vietnam with her family, and how she struggles to learn how to adjust to a new country and the complexities of the English language.


5.   Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough (YA)

This book was probably the most intense, so much so that I almost didn’t finish it, but it was ultimately worth the read, at least for me. The story focuses on a poetic interpretation of the life of Artemisia Gentileschi, a historic Italian painter, whose work often emphasizes empowering women. I learned a lot about history, injustice, and overcoming.


6.   Saving Red by Sonya Sones (YA)

This book was the first novel in verse I ever read, and it got me hooked on the style. After all, what’s not to like about the way stories combine with imagery? You can’t have purple prose if it’s not in prose. When I first started reading novels in verse, I found I also liked the style because the chapters were so short, and before I knew it, I’d finished more than I might have if the chapters had been long.


This April, I plan on reading a novel in verse a day (during weekdays only because let’s face it, work is hard). I gave up social media for lent, but after Easter, you can follow me on Instagram to see exactly what I’m reading.

Here are just some of the novels in verse on my To-Be-Read list:

  • Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
  • Bull by David Elliot
  • Alone by Megan E. Freeman (top of the list!)
  • Planet Middle School by Nikki Grimes
  • Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
  • Butterfly Yellow by Thanhhá Lai


Let’s chat! Have you read any of the books I’ve mentioned? When’s the last time you read a novel in verse? Have any favorites?




Similar posts: Self-Publishing Poetry: A Glimpse into the Making of Dandelion Symphony, 7 Things I Learned from Writing Poetry, and 7 Reasons I Enjoy Novels in Verse

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