Book List

12 YA Books in Verse You Need to Read

January 18, 2017
Sarah Jane Abbott
Riveted Editorial Board

Ever since I read my first Ellen Hopkins book in high school, I’ve loved novels written in verse. From the beautiful language to the raw emotion, they’re often as moving as they are fun to read. If you too are a fan of verse, hopefully you’ve been following along with our Month of Ellen Hopkins and have been reading Tricks and Crank! If you’ve read them already and are craving more verse, look no further: here are 12 more novels in verse you’re sure to love! Have any favorites we missed? Let us know in the comments!

P.S. Verse-lovers: the incomparable Jason Reynolds’s next novel Long Way Down (which was just revealed today!) will be written in verse! We foresee a future “12 MORE YA Books in Verse You Need to Read” book list…

The Crossoverby Kwame Alexander

"With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I'm delivering," announces dread-locked, 12-year old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood, he's got mad beats, too, that tell his family's story in verse, in this fast and furious middle grade novel of family and brotherhood.

Josh and Jordan must come to grips with growing up on and off the court to realize breaking the rules comes at a terrible price, as their story's heart-stopping climax proves a game-changer for the entire family.

After the Kissby Terra Elan McVoy

Becca and her boyfriend, Alec, attend different schools, but they make things work—mainly by being inseparable after school and on weekends. So when Becca has to take a job at a coffee shop, she is more than a little bit insecure about what this will mean for their relationship.

Meanwhile, new-girl Camille meets a haiku-spouting boy who makes her genuinely laugh, even though she can see an all-too-familiar loneliness in him. The kiss they steal on the back deck at a party takes her by surprise and leaves her wanting more.

What Camille doesn’t know is that this boy is Alec, Becca’s boyfriend. And Alec doesn’t know that Becca’s best friend has captured The Kiss on her camera phone.

Becca and Camille have never met, but their lives will unravel and intertwine in surprising ways throughout this beautifully crafted verse novel about love, heartbreak, and trust.

Bruiserby Neal Shusterman

Tennyson is not surprised, really, when his family begins to fall apart, or when his twin sister, Brontë, starts dating the misunderstood bully, Brewster (or The Bruiser, as the entire high school calls him). Tennyson is determined to get to the bottom of The Bruiser's reputation, even if it means gearing up for a fight. Brontë, on the other hand, thinks there's something special underneath that tough exterior. And she's right…but neither she nor Tennyson is prepared for the truth of what lies below the surface. Told through Tennyson, Brontë, and Bruiser's points of view, this dark, twisting novel explores friendship, family, and the sacrifices we make for the people we love.

Crankby Ellen Hopkins

Kristina Georgia Snow is the perfect daughter: gifted high school junior, quiet, never any trouble. But on a trip to visit her absentee father, Kristina disappears and Bree takes her place. Bree is the exact opposite of Kristina — she's fearless.

Through a boy, Bree meets the monster: crank. And what begins as a wild, ecstatic ride turns into a struggle through hell for her mind, her soul—her life.

Enchanted Airby Margarita Engle

In this poetic memoir, which won the Pura Belpré Author Award, was a YALSA Nonfiction Finalist, and was named a Walter Dean Myers Award Honoree, acclaimed author Margarita Engle tells of growing up as a child of two cultures during the Cold War.

Margarita is a girl from two worlds. Her heart lies in Cuba, her mother’s tropical island country, a place so lush with vibrant life that it seems like a fairy tale kingdom. But most of the time she lives in Los Angeles, lonely in the noisy city and dreaming of the summers when she can take a plane through the enchanted air to her beloved island. Words and images are her constant companions, friendly and comforting when the children at school are not.

Then a revolution breaks out in Cuba. Margarita fears for her far-away family. When the hostility between Cuba and the United States erupts at the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Margarita’s worlds collide in the worst way possible. How can the two countries she loves hate each other so much? And will she ever get to visit her beautiful island again?

Freakboyby Kristin Elizabeth Clark

From the outside, Brendan Chase seems to have it pretty easy. He’s a star wrestler, a video game aficionado, and a loving boyfriend to his seemingly perfect match, Vanessa. But on the inside, Brendan struggles to understand why his body feels so wrong—why he sometimes fantasizes having long hair, soft skin, and gentle curves. Is there even a name for guys like him? Guys who sometimes want to be girls? Or is Brendan just a freak?

In Freakboy's razor-sharp verse, Kristin Clark folds three narratives into one powerful story: Brendan trying to understand his sexual identity, Vanessa fighting to keep her and Brendan’s relationship alive, and Angel struggling to confront her demons.

Glimpseby Carol Lynch Williams

Twelve-year-old Hope’s life is turned upside down when her older sister, Lizzie, becomes an elective mute and is institutionalized after trying to kill herself.

Hope and Lizzie have relied on each other from a young age, ever since the death of their father. Their mother, who turns tricks to support her family, is a reluctant and unreliable parent—at best. During the course of this lyrical and heartbreaking narrative from an exceptionally promising YA voice, readers will discover the chilling reason why Lizzie has stopped speaking—and why Hope is the only one who can bring the truth to light and save her sister.

One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Diesby Sonya Sones

When Ruby’s mother dies, she’s dragged three thousand miles away from her gorgeous boyfriend, Ray, to live in LA with her father, who she’s only ever seen in movies. He’s a mega-famous actor who divorced her mom before Ruby was even born, and while the rest of the world may love him, Ruby definitely does not.

But as time passes and pages turn, Ruby comes to understand that circumstances are far more complicated than they seem, and sometimes forgiveness is found where you least expect it. This award-winning and bestselling novel in verse weaves a gripping narrative that is accessible as it is compelling.

The Realm of Possibilityby David Levithan

This collection of linked poems from David Levithan, the author of the New York Times bestseller Every Day and the groundbreaking classic Boy Meets Boy and the co-author of Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with John Green), will introduce you to a world of unforgettable and emotionally resonant voices.

Enter The Realm of Possibility and meet a boy whose girlfriend is in love with Holden Caulfield; a girl who loves the boy who wears all black; a boy with the perfect body; and a girl who writes love songs for a girl she can’t have.

These are just a few of the captivating characters readers will get to know in this intensely heartfelt new novel about those ever-changing moments of love and heartbreak that go hand-in-hand with high school. David Levithan plumbs the depths of teenage emotion to create an amazing array of voices that readers won’t forget. So, enter their lives and prepare to welcome the realm of possibility open to us all. Love, joy, and these stories will linger.

Street Loveby Walter Dean Myers

A story of star-crossed urban love by two-time National Book Award finalist Walter Dean Myers. Have you ever loved someone from the wrong side of the tracks? Damien has everything going for him. His family wants him to date Roxanne. He falls for Junice, whose life is totally messed up. But Junice tells him that he's the one who needs the reality check. Sometimes the greatest obstacle to finding true love is ourselves. Harlem meets Shakespeare in this fresh, original free-verse novel.

I Heart You, You Haunt Meby Lisa Schroeder

Girl meets boy.

Girl loses boy.

Girl gets boy back...

...sort of.

Ava can't see him or touch him, unless she's dreaming. She can't hear his voice, except for the faint whispers in her mind. Most would think she's crazy, but she knows he's here.

Jackson. The boy Ava thought she'd spend the rest of her life with. He's back from the dead, as proof that love truly knows no bounds.

The Lost Marble Notebook of Forgotten Girl & Random Boyby Marie Jaskulka

Forgotten Girl, a fifteen-year-old poet, is going through the most difficult time of her life—the breakup of her parents, and her mom’s resulting depression—when she meets Random Boy, a hot guy who, like her, feels like an outcast and secretly writes poetry to deal with everything going on in his life.

In The Lost Marble Notebook of Forgotten Girl & Random Boy, the couple’s poems come together to tell their unique love story. The two nameless teenagers come from opposite sides of the tracks, yet they find understanding in each other when they lay bare their life stories through the poetry they write and share with each other.

Through verse, they document the power of first kisses, the joy of finally having someone on their side, the devastation of jealousy, and the heartbreaking sadness of what each of them is simultaneously dealing with at home and hiding from the world. Finally they have someone to tell and somewhere to tell it in their marble notebook.

This is the powerful story of two imperfect teens in first love who find solace in poetry.