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Book List: young adult novels in verse

Novels in verse arent exactly new (some rather well-known classics such as The Divine Comedy, The Iliad and The Odyssey, and Paradise Lost come to mind), but young adult novels in verse are a relatively new phenomenon. And what a phenomenon they are: many of them have won prestigious awards such as the National Book Award, the Prinz Honor Award, or the Newbery, or in some cases, a combination of these. Below is a brief list of some of the novels in verse, both recent and older, that can be found around the traps. As always, the list is in no way exhaustive, so feel free to contribute any books that you feel should be featured.

crank ellen hopkins Book List: young adult novels in verse

Crank by Ellen Hopkins

Blurb: Kristina Georgia Snow is the perfect daughter: a gifted student, quiet, never any trouble. But on a trip to visit her absentee father, Kristina disappears and Bree takes her place. Bree is a total opposite to Kristina shes fearless. Through a boy she meets, Bree is introduced to the monster: crank. And what begins as a wild, ecstatic ride turns into a struggle through hell for her mind, her soul and, ultimately, her life.

See also:

glass hopkins Book List: young adult novels in versefallout hopkins Book List: young adult novels in verse


i heart you you haunt me Book List: young adult novels in verse

I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Shroeder

Blurb: Girl meets boy.

Girl loses boy.

Girl gets boy back

sort of.

Ava cant see him or touch him, unless shes dreaming. She cant hear his voice, except for the faint whispers in her mind. Most would think shes crazy, but she knows hes here.'Jackson. The boy Ava thought shed spend the rest of her life with. Hes back from the dead, as proof that love truly knows no bounds.

See also:

far from you Book List: young adult novels in verse____

love that dog crreech Book List: young adult novels in verse

Love that Dog by Sharon Creech

Blurb: Love That Dog is the story of Jack, his dog, his teacher, and words. The story develops through Jacks responses to his teacher, Miss Stretchberry, over the course of a school year. At first, his responses are short and cranky: I dont want to and I tried. Cant do it. Brains empty. But as his teacher feeds him inspiration, Jack finds that he has a lot to say and he finds ways to say it.

See also:

hate that cat creech Book List: young adult novels in verseheartbeat creech Book List: young adult novels in verse____

Shakespeare Bats Cleanup Book List: young adult novels in verse

Shakespeare Bats Cleanup'by'Ron Koertge

Blurb:'When MVP Kevin Boland gets the news that he has mono and wont be seeing a baseball field for a while, he suddenly finds himself scrawling a poem down the middle of a page in his journal. To get some help, he cops a poetry book from his dads den and before Kevin knows it, hes writing in verse about stuff like, Will his jock friends give up on him? Whats the deal with girlfriends? Surprisingly enough, after his health improves, he keeps on writing, about the smart-talking Latina girl who thinks poets are cool, and even about his mother, whose death is a still-tender loss.


 Book List: young adult novels in verse

Pearl Verses the World by Sally Murphy (see our review)

At school, Pearl feels as though she is in a group of one. Her teacher wants her to write poems that rhyme but Pearl's poems don't. At home, however, Pearl feels safe and loved, but her grandmother is slowly fading, and so are Mum and Pearl. When her grandmother eventually passes away, Pearl wants life to go back to the way it was and refuses to talk at the funeral. But she finds the courage to deliver a poem for her grandmother that defies her teacher's idea of poetry her poem doesn t rhyme; it comes from the heart.


out of the dust hesse Book List: young adult novels in verse

Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse (Newbery award winner)

Blurb: Told in free verse in the spare and haunting voice of 14-year-old Billie Jo Kelby, Out of the Dust is a journey to the heart of a family caught in the Oklahoma dust-bowl. It is the story of Ma, who sees the idea of herself burn away with every parched day, until she herself is consumed by fire. It is the story of Bayard, her husband, who cannot comes to terms with his failure to produce, to provide. But most of all, it is the story of Billie Jo who must find a way to get out of the dust, even if it means leaving behind everything she has ever loved.

See also:

aleutian sparrow Book List: young adult novels in versewitness hesse Book List: young adult novels in verse___

Karma by Cathy Ostlere Book List: young adult novels in verse

Karma by Cathy Ostlere

It is 1984, and fifteen-year-old Maya is on her way to India with her father. She carries with her the ashes of her mother, who recently committed suicide, and arrives in Delhi on the eve of Prime Minister Indira Gandhis assassination.'Maya is separated from her father and must rely upon the mysterious, kindhearted Sandeep to safely reunite them. As her love for Sandeep begins to blossom, Maya must face the truth about her painful adolescenceif shes ever to imagine her future.


what my mother doesnt know sones Book List: young adult novels in verse

What my Mother Doesnt Know by Sonya Somes

Blurb: My name is Sophie.
This book is about me.
It tells
the heart-stoppingly riveting story
of my first love.
And also of my second.
And, okay, my third love too.

Its not that Im boy crazy.
Its just that even though
Im almost fifteen
its like
my mind
and my body
and my heart
just dont seem to be able to agree
on anything.

See also:

what my girlfriend doesnt know sones Book List: young adult novels in verseone of those hideous books where the mother dies Book List: young adult novels in verse


keeshas house by helen frost Book List: young adult novels in verse

Keeshas House by Helen Frost (Printz award winner)

Blurb: Seven teens facing such problems as pregnancy, closeted homosexuality, and abuse each describe in poetic forms what caused them to leave home and where they found home again.


a bad boy can be good for a girl stone Book List: young adult novels in verse

A Bad Boy Can be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone

Josie, Nicolette, and Aviva all get mixed up with a senior boy, a cool, slick, sexy boy who can talk them into doing almost anything he wants. In a blur of high school hormones and personal doubt, each girl struggles with how much to give up and what ultimately to keep for herself. How do girls handle themselves? How much can a boy get away with? And in the end, who comes out on top? A bad boy may always be a bad boy. But this bad boy is about to meet three girls who wont back down.


you are not here samantha schutz1 Book List: young adult novels in verse

You Are not Here by Samantha Schutz

Blurb: Annaleah and Brian shared something special Annaleah is sure of it. When they were together, they didnt need anyone else. It didnt matter that their relationship was secret. All that mattered was what they had with each other. And then, out of nowhere, Brian dies. And while everyone else has their role in the grieving process, Annaleah finds herself living outside of it, unacknowledged and lonely. How can you recover from a loss that no one will let you have?


A Girl Named Mister by Nikki Grimes Book List: young adult novels in verse

A Girl Named Mister'by Nikki Grimes

A pregnant teenager finds support and forgiveness from God through a book of poetry presented from the Virgin Marys perspective.


sold mccormick Book List: young adult novels in verse

Sold by Patricia McCormick (National Book Award finalist)

Blurb: Sold into prostitution, Lakshmi lives a nightmare and gradually forms friendships with the other girls that enable her to survive in this terrifying new world. Then the day comes when she must make a decision to risk everything for a chance to reclaim her life.


yellow star roy Book List: young adult novels in verseYellow Star by Jennifer Roy

Blurb: In 1939, the Germans invaded the town of Lodz, Poland, and moved the Jewish population into a small part of the city called a ghetto. As the war progressed, 270,000 people were forced to settle in the ghetto under impossible conditions. 'At the end of the war, there were about 800 survivors. Of those who survived, only twelve were children. This is the story of one of the twelve.


make lemonade wolff Book List: young adult novels in verse

Make Lemonade by Virginia Ewer Wolff (National Book Award, Prinz Award)

Blurb: LaVaughn needed a part-time job, something she could do after school to help earn money for college. Jolly needed a babysitter, someone she could trust with two kids while she worked the evening shift.
It didnt matter that LaVaughn was fourteen, ?only three years younger than Jolly. It didnt matter that Jolly didnt have a husband ?or a mom and dad?, because LaVaughn gives Jolly and her two babies more love and understanding than should be possible for a fourteen-year-old, because if she doesnt no one else will.

See also:

true believeer wolff Book List: young adult novels in versethis full house wolff Book List: young adult novels in verse____

autobiography of red carson Book List: young adult novels in verse

Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson

Blurb: From an award-winning poet comes a novel in verse that re-imagines an ancient Greek epic as a modern coming-of-age story. A young boy, who is also a winged red monster, reveals his tormented soul in an autobiography he begins at age five.


crash boom love herrera Book List: young adult novels in verse

Crash Boom Love by Juan Filipe Herrera

Blurb: In this novel in verseunprecedented in Chicano literaturerenowned poet Juan Felipe Herrera illuminates the soul of a generation. Drawn from his own life as well as a lifetime of dedication to young people,CrashBoomLove helps readers understand what it is to be a teen, a migrant worker, and a boy wanting to be a boy.'Sixteen-year-old Cesar Garcia is careening. His father, Papi Cesar, has left the migrant circuit in California for his other wife and children in Denver. Sweet Mama Lucy tries to provide for her son with dichos and tales of her own misspent youth. But at Rambling West High School in Fowlerville, the sides are drawn: Hmongs vs. Chicanos vs. everybody vs. Cesar, the new kid on the block.

See also:

cinnamon girl Book List: young adult novels in verse____

Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay Book List: young adult novels in verse

Love and Leftovers'by Sarah Tregay

My Wish'is to fall

cranium over Converse
in dizzy daydream-worthy love.
(If only it were that easy.)
Marcie has been dragged away from home for the summerfrom Idaho to a family summerhouse in New Hampshire. Shes left behind her friends, a group of freaks and geeks called the Leftovers, including her emo-rocker boyfriend, and her father.
By the time Labor Day rolls around, Marcie suspects this summer vacation has become permanent. She has to start at a new school, and there she leaves behind her Leftover status when a cute boy brings her breakfast and a new romance heats up. But understanding love, especially when youve watched your parents affections end, is elusive. What does it feel like, really? Can you even know it until youve lost it?
Love & Leftovers'is a beautifully written story of one girls journey navigating family, friends, and love, and a compelling and sexy read that teens will gobble up whole.


jinx margaret wild Book List: young adult novels in verse

Jinx by Margaret Wild

Blurb: Jinx doesnt start out as Jinx at first shes dull, safe, boring Jen. Jen who always hands her homework in on time, Jen who never stays out late, Jen who can always be counted on. When Jens first boyfriend dies, she thinks shes unluckyuntil her second boyfriend dies too. Jen'is Jinx now a curse, a promise of bad luck, a girl whos angry and alone, who cant get close to people anymore.'Can Jinx find her way back to being Jen again?

See also

one night wild Book List: young adult novels in verse___

by the river herrick Book List: young adult novels in verse

By the River by Steven Herrick

Blurb: This is a memorable YA novel about the tough and tender sides of growing up in a small country town. Fourteen-year-old Harry has a knack for wriggling out of trouble, but escaping the constraints and memories that keep him trapped is not easy, until its a matter of life or death. The big river rolls past our town, takes a slow look and rolls away. Life for Harry means swimming in Pearce Swamp, eating chunks of watermelon with his brother and his dad, surviving schoolyard battles, and racing through butterflies in Cowpers Paddock. In his town theres Linda, who brings him the sweetest-ever orange cake, and Johnny, whose lightning fists draw blood in a blur, and theres a mystery that Harry needs to solve before he can find a way outBy The River is about feeling the undercurrents, finding solid ground and knowing when to make a leap.


who killed me chippendale glenn Book List: young adult novels in verse

Who Killed Mr Chippendale by Mel Glenn

Blurb: Free verse poems describe the reactions of students, colleagues, and others when a high school teacher is shot to death as the school day begins.

See also:

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call me maria ortiz cofer Book List: young adult novels in verse

Call Me Maria by Judith Ortiz Cofer

Blurb: Maria is a girl caught between two worlds: Puerto Rico, where she was born, and New York, where she now lives in a basement apartment in the barrio. While her mother remains on the island, Maria lives with her father, the super of their building. As she struggles to lose her island accent, Maria does her best to find her place within the unfamiliar culture of the barrio. Finally, with the Spanglish of the barrio people ringing in her ears, she finds the poet within herself. In lush prose and spare, evocative poetry, Cofer weaves a powerful novel, bursting with life and hope.


walter dean myers street love Book List: young adult novels in verse

Street Love by Walter Dean Myers

Your first love is totally wrong for you.
Do you follow your heart?
Or do you run away?


What am I doing? He?ll take one quick look
And wish he was anywhere else but here
I?m already ashamed of what I think
He will think of me, of the life I lead


Yes, she is the fruit that will
Sustain me and yes, she brings
A rain that I know can chill
But it is a rain so sweet and sings
A song my soul insists
That I follow, if I would exist
As more than I have ever, ever been
If my mother calls it evil, then I embrace the sin


song of the sparrow sandell Book List: young adult novels in verse

Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell

Blurb: Since the days of King Arthur, there have been poems and paintings created in her name. She is Elaine of Ascolat, the Lady of Shalott, and now there is a book all her own. The year is 490 A.D. and 16-year-old Elaine has a temperament to match her fiery red hair. Living on a military base with her father, brothers, and the rest of Arthurs army, Elaine pines for the handsome Lancelot, and longs for a female friend. But when the cruel, beautiful Gwynivere arrives, Elaine is confronted with startling emotions of jealousy and rivalry. Can Elaine find the strength to survive the birth of a kingdom?

See also:

a map of the known world sandell Book List: young adult novels in verseweight of the sky Book List: young adult novels in verse____

shark girl bingham Book List: young adult novels in verse

Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham

Blurb: On a sunny day in June, at the beach with her mom and brother, fifteen-year-old Jane Arrowood went for a swim. And then everything ' absolutely everything ' changed. Now she's counting down the days until she returns to school with her fake arm, where she knows kids will whisper, That's her ' that's Shark Girl, as she passes. In the meantime there are only questions: Why did this happen? Why her? What about her art? What about her life? In this striking first novel, Kelly Bingham uses poems, letters, telephone conversations, and newspaper clippings to look unflinchingly at what it's like to lose part of yourself and to summon the courage it takes to find yourself again.


sweetgrass basket carvell Book List: young adult novels in verse

Sweetgrass Basket by Marlene Carvell

Blurb: In alternating passages, two Mohawk sisters describe their lives at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, established in 1879 to educate Native Americans, as they try to assimilate into white culture and one of them is falsely accused of stealing.

See also:

who will tell my brother Book List: young adult novels in verse


sarah crossan weight of water Book List: young adult novels in verse

The Weight of Water'by Sarah Crossan

Blurb:'Armed with a suitcase and an old laundry bag filled with clothes, Kasienka and her mother leave Poland and head for the UK to find her father. Life is lonely for Kasienka. At home her mothers heart is breaking and at school Kasienka finds it impossible to make new friends. While the search continues, Kasienka is kept afloat by William, a boy she meets at the local pool who understands what it means to lose someone and who swims with Kasienka towards her new life.


three rivers rising Book List: young adult novels in verse

Three Rivers Rising'by Jame Richards

Blurb:'Richards pens a searing novel that explores a cross-class romance amid a tragic event in U.S. historythe 1889 flood in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.


bruiser shusterman Book List: young adult novels in verse

Bruiser'by Neal Shusterman (told partly in verse)

Blurb:'Theres a reason why Brewster cant have friendswhy he cant care about too many people. Because when he cares about you, things start to happen. Impossible things that cant be explained. I know, because theyre happening to me. When BrontE starts dating Brewster Bruiser Rawlinsthe guy voted Most Likely to Get the Death Penaltyher twin brother, Tennyson, isnt surprised. But then strange things begin to occur. Tennyson and BrontEs scrapes heal unnaturally fast, and cuts disappear before their eyes. What at first seems like their good fortune turns out to be more than they bargained for . . . much more.


  1. Great list. One more: Call Me Maria. I have a review of it here:

    Would you mind if I reposted your list? Id link back to you and credit you, of course.

    • Stephanie /

      Thanks for the suggestion! Ill add it in. :)

      No problem at all about the linkinggo ahead.

  2. Epic list! Thanks. Im bookmarking this for future reference. ;)

    OF COURSE Ellen Hopkins is first mentioned.

    • Stephanie /

      My pleasure, Cass! I think Ellen deserves a prominent place given all the discussion of her work of late!

      Ive also had a few more great suggestions that Ill add to the list when I get a chance.

  3. Im not usually a fan of novels in verse. Theyre harder for me to read, for some reason. Though, the only one on your list Ive read is Love That Dog, so maybe I should read a few more of them before I make my decision!

    • Stephanie /

      I know what you mean. I think theres a definite taste factor involvedand even more so than regular prose approaches. Verse can easily veer towards being a purposeless affectation.

  4. Thanks for posting this list (and the links). Im going to check out YOU ARE NOT HERE.

    - Sarah

  5. I happened upon one more to add to your excellent list:

    The Dancing Pancake by Eileen Spinelli

    • Stephanie /

      Oh, thank you! I still need to update this post with everyones excellent suggestions, but Ive been flat-out. :)

  6. I can totally understand that! Its such a crazy time of year!

  7. We are currently doing a Poetry-Inspired Yuletide Cheer theme over at GatheringBooks and were also doing reviews of novels-in-verse. I didnt realize I missed out on quite a lot until I stumbled onto your site! Such a comprehensive list! I would definitely have to include your site as a resource once I also compile my list end of January. Id also like to recommend the award-winning books of Margarita Engle: The Surrender Tree, The Poet Slave of Cuba, and The Firefly Letters I reviewed the former and the latter in my site, in case youre interested. :)

    • Stephanie /

      Thanks so much for your lovely words, Myra! I have a few updates to make to the listhopefully Ill get to it over the next few days. :) Ill be sure to swing by your site to see your reviews and recommendations!