Young Adult Novels In Verse

Georgetown LibraryStaff Picks

Young Adult Novels In Verse

Some readers cannot get enough poetry, and DC Public Library owns many great anthologies of poetry for children, teens and adults. Oftentimes, a poem can tell a story that can be beautiful, heartbreaking, or moving, all within a few lines, whereas in other cases, several short poems can become a novel in verse. All of these novels are written for a young adult audience, and they span a variety of settings, time periods and topics.

Sold by Patricia McCormick
When thirteen-year-old Lakshmi leaves her mountain home in Nepal, she believes that she will be accepting a job as a maid in a city in India. Instead, she ends up at the “Happiness House,” and learns that she has been sold into prostitution. Mumtaz runs the brothel and insists that Lakshmi must stay until she has paid off her debts, while barely giving her any money. Lakshmi finds a way to persevere by making friends with the other girls at the brothel. Will she ever find a way to escape? Readers who want read a raw, powerful story should pick up Sold.

Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott
In Auschwitz, young women Zlatka and Fania find one thing that continues to give them hope and keep them alive: friendship. While they are in Auschwitz, time that should be spent enjoying life continues to pass by, filled with horrific living conditions and loss. When Fania’s birthday, approaches, Zlatka takes the ultimate risk and uses stolen and bartered paper and scissors to make Fania a card that resembles an origami heart, quietly passing it around for other women to sign. Based on a true story, this novel set during the Holocaust is a beautiful story of tragedy and ultimately, hope.

Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark
Brendan Chase appears to have an easy life. He is a wrestler, a gamer, and boyfriend to Vanessa, who is also on the wrestling team. However, the body he’s in doesn’t feel quite right. Brendan wonders what it would be like to have long hair, or have soft skin. When he becomes ill after a night of drinking, Brendan finds himself being invited into a center for LGBTQIA teens by a transgender woman named Angel. Will Brendan be able to face who he really is?  Freakboy is a realistic novel in verse that depicts the struggle that transgeder teens today face.

Audacity by Melanie Crowder
It is the turn of the twentieth century, and Jewish-Russian Clara Lemlich and her family are trying to get by in New York City after leaving Russia, where they faced anti-Semitism. In order to financially support her family, Clara works in a sweatshop, and against the wishes of her father, takes classes to learn English in the evenings. Clara dreams of one day being a doctor, but the longer she works in sweatshops, the more she realizes that she cannot abide by the conditions that she and so many other young women face, so she becomes a leader, encouraging women to strike, organize, and unionize. Crowder’s poetry fills this story with emotion as readers see what Clara must endure to get better rights. A great choice for those who love poetry, historical fiction, and feminism.

My Book Of Life By Angel by Martine Leavitt
It all starts at the mall, where Angel meets a boy named Call and finds herself in a relationship with him. Call buys her food, tells her he loves her and gives her candy, which is actually drugs. Angel becomes addicted to candy, is thrown out by her father, and moves in with Call, who she learns is a pimp who plans to have her work the streets of Vancouver. Although she wants to leave, Angel is addicted to his candy. When a younger girl named Melli enters the picture, Angel realizes that she must find a way for both of them to escape. A look into the lives of teenage sex workers, My Book of Life by Angel is an excellent choice for readers who crave beautiful poetry and a novel based on real events.

Coaltown Jesus by Ron Koertge
Walker’s mother, who runs a nursing home, hasn’t stopped crying since Walker’s brother, Noah, passed away two months ago. Walker has been praying that some divine force will help his mother. When Jesus shows up, Walker is not only surprised by his presence, but also by his requests for ice cream treats and red sneakers. Walker doesn’t quite understand why Jesus would come to Coaltown, Illinois and it even turns out that Jesus makes a surprising amount of jokes. Will Walker be able to grieve and move forward? Coaltown Jesus is excellent for readers seeking a novel in verse that explores religion and grief.

Hideous Love: The Story of the Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein by Stephanie Hemphill
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley is most well-known for being the author of Frankenstein. Before she was an author, she was also a daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft, author of A Vindication Of the Rights of Woman, a wife to Percy Shelley, a mother, and a close friend to Lord Byron. Shelley wrote Frankenstein at the age of nineteen, and Hemphill describes some of the settings and philosophical discussions that inspired the novel, as well as the details of Shelley’s personal life. Hideous Love: The Story of the Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein is a beautifully written story about what can inspire and drive an artist.

Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine Hepperman
At the start of this book, Catholic school student Addie is a cross-country runner, and perhaps one of her biggest flaws is that she has feelings for her boyfriend’s best friend, Nick. When Addie and Nick get together, Addie’s life is interrupted by an unplanned pregnancy and abortion. Although Addie has the support of Nick and her parents, things just don’t feel right. To complicate matters, she reconnects with former teammate Juliana and realizes she may not be the person she always thought she was. Readers seeking religious imagery and beautifully intertwined plots should pick up Ask Me How I Got Here.

One by Sarah Crossan
Sixteen-year-old Tippi and Grace have always supported each other and shared nearly everything. It’s impossible not to since they are twins who were born conjoined at the waist. When money becomes tight in their home, Tippi and Grace attend mainstream school for the first time, and Grace begins to fall in love. When Grace’s health begins to decline, the two must make a decision that comes with high risks regardless of their choice. One is an excellent story of the bond between two sisters and their relationship with the world around them.
    Sold by Patricia McCormick