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    18 YA Verse Novels To Pick Up During National Poetry Month

    Add these to your reading list if you haven't already!

    Young adult verse novels are known for their punchy, lyrical quality. They often blend poetry with the challenges many teens face, from identity to racism and sexual assault. If you’re looking for a new book to hold your attention while offering a dose of poetry, these are excellent choices. Keep in mind, however, that several of these books deal with sensitive issues like sexual assault and addiction.

    1. Chlorine Sky by Mahogany L. Browne

    Crown Books for Young Readers, mobrowne.com

    This powerful debut coming-of-age verse novel follows a Black girl who, in the aftermath of a friendship breakup, steps out of her former friend’s shadow. Chlorine Sky tackles self-love, colorism, friendship, and family dynamics.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    2. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

    Harperteen, acevedowrites.com

    In Acevedo’s sophomore YA novel, two sisters — one in the Dominican Republic, the other in New York — discover that their father has led a double life keeping them in the dark about each other’s existence. When he dies in a plane crash, the secret unravels and both girls have to find a way to grieve even as they learn to love each other and forgive their Papi.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    3. Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh

    Dutton Books for Young Readers, becomher.com

    Ada is the daughter of a religious Nigerian immigrant father and an African American mother. Her mother is grappling with substance addiction, which impacts her relationship with Ada. In Every Body Looking, Candice Iloh draws heavily on her life experiences to craft a novel about body image, belonging, and identity.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    4. Home Is Not a Country by Safia Elhillo

    Make Me A World, Aris Theotokatos

    Nima doesn’t feel at home in America. Even her immigrant mother does not seem to understand her. After all, she should be grateful to live in a country that isn’t a war zone. As Nima grapples with racism and Islamophobia, she begins to learn that maybe home isn’t a place, but your people.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    5. 500 Words or Less by Juleah del Rosario

    Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Flor Blake / Via juleahdelrosario.com

    After Nic Chen cheats on her lovable high school boyfriend, she starts writing college application essays for her classmates to get in their good graces again. This YA verse novel handles the sensitive subject of infidelity with discretion and centers around themes of identity, loneliness, and racism.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    6. Solo by Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess

    Blink, goodreads.com

    Few people do verse novels as well as Kwame Alexander. In Solo, his YA verse novel cowritten with Mary Rand Hess, we meet Blade, the son of a rock 'n' roll artist and drug addict. After a family secret comes to light, Blade feels lost and takes a life-changing trip to Ghana. The audiobook is phenomenal. I highly recommended.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    7. Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

    Balzer & Bray/Harperteen, Richard Louissant / ibizoboi.net / Via epicreads.com

    This exceptional novel by Ibi Zoboi and reform activist Yusef Salaam follows a wrongfully incarcerated Black teen and his fight to change the trajectory of his life. With gorgeous, lyrical writing and a powerful message, this one will leave you changed.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    8. The Truth Project by Dante Medema

    Quill Tree Books, dantemedema.com

    Cordelia Koenig’s life is turned upside down when a school genealogy project reveals that her father is not actually her biological father. This hybrid YA novel is written entirely in verse, text messages, and emails.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    9. Love & Leftovers by Sarah Tregay

    Katherine Tegen Books, sarahtregay.com

    If you just want a sweet love story — but in verse — look no further. Love & Leftovers is Marcie’s story. When her mother drags her to New Hampshire for the summer, it isn’t long before Marci finds out that they won’t be returning to her father in Idaho. Now she has to build a new life in a new high school, with a new love, maybe?

    Get it from Bookshop or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    10. If I Tell You the Truth by Jasmin Kaur

    HarperCollins, Tajinder Kau / Via jasminkaur.com

    Another mixed-format YA novel, this poignant book follows Sahaara, whose mother Kiran — on the verge of being deported from Canada — reveals a weighty secret: Sahara was conceived when Kiran was raped in India, her home country. Desperate to help keep her mother in Canada, Sahara encourages her to speak up against her rapist, who is now a prominent political figure in India.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    11. Three Things I Know Are True by Betty Culley

    HarperTeen, bettyculley.com

    When Liv’s brother Jonah accidentally shoots himself with the his friend Clay’s father’s gun, both families become divided. Liv’s mother is suing Clay’s family; Jonah is in a coma only Liv seems to believe he’ll survive; and Liv still wants to be in Clay’s life. This verse novel is an emotional rollercoaster that addresses serious issues like gun control and forgiveness.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    12. Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough

    Penguin Books, joymccullough.com

    Joy McCullough’s historical verse novel is based on the life of renowned Italian painter Artemisia Gentileschi, whose life was changed after sexual assault. Blood Water Paint is an exploration of art, misogyny, and women reclaiming power.

    Get it from Bookshop or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    13. Crank by Ellen Hopkins

    Margaret K. McElderry Books, Sonya Sones / Via simonandschuster.com

    Ellen Hopkin’s disturbing YA novel about a teen’s descent into meth addiction is a difficult but necessary book to read for anyone looking for YA books about substance abuse and addiction. This book is based on Hopkins's experience with a teen daughter who also becomes addicted to crystal meth. Sensitive readers may want to approach this one with caution.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    14. A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman

    Penguin Books, goodreads.com

    Classical dance prodigy Veda exists to dance; so when an accident results in a below-the-knee amputation and the use of a prosthetic leg, she has to retrain her new body. She meets Govinda, another dancer whose spiritual relationship with dance causes her to reexamine what dance means to her.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    15. We Come Apart by Brian Conaghan and Sarah Crossan

    Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children's Books, goodreads.com, Ben Turner / Ben Turner Photography (http://www.benturnerphotography.com) / Via thebentagency.com

    This dual POV verse novel follows two teens navigating challenging home environments as they find a sense of belonging in their friendship and romance. We Come Apart manages to be full of heart and tackle timely issues like immigration, racism, and abuse.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    16. Up From the Sea by Leza Lowitz

    Ember, goodreads.com

    A teen boy, Kai, survives the 2011 tsunami in Japan but loses loved ones and the home he has always known. When he gets the opportunity to travel to the States to meet kids impacted by 9/11, he sees it as a chance to reconnect with his estranged American father.

    Get it from Bookshop or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    17. Ordinary Hazards by Nikki Grimes

    Aaron Lemen / Via nikkigrimes.com

    Nikki Grimes’s verse memoir recounts her traumatic childhood, first with a schizophrenic mother then bouncing through foster homes. At age 6, Grimes discovers the power of words and writing and the art form preserves her spirit and gifts us the writer we know today.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

    For another verse novel from Grimes, check out Bronx Masquerade. After Wesley shares a poem in his high school English class, his other classmates of varying races and circumstances want to get in on writing and performing poetry too. So, over the school year, their teacher Mr. Ward allows his class to become a makeshift poetry slam center. This book, by the ever-masterful Nikki Grimes, is a mix of prose and poetry.

    18. White Rose by Kip Wilson

    Versify, Rosanne Samson / Via kipwilsonwrites.com

    In this historical verse novel, author Kip Wilson tells the story of activist Sophie Scholl. Scholl was a member of White Rose, a secret resistance group in Nazi Germany, who worked to promote a revolution against Hitler. History buffs who enjoy the verse format will love this one.

    Get it from Bookshop, Target, or through your local indie through Indiebound here.

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