Novels in Verse for Teens and Adults

By Skokie Staff Advisory Services

If you aren't sure how you feel about poetry, novels in verse are a great place to start. The poems come together to tell one overarching story. They are generally short enough to read quickly, and every word and pause is carefully chosen to make the greatest impact.

  • Turtle under Ice

    2020 by Del Rosario, Juleah

    Juleah Del Rosario blends poetry, psychological fiction, and realistic fiction in this novel. Centered around two sisters struggling to cope with their mother's death, this story explores grief and the various forms that it can take in one's life. Recommended by Paul

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  • Blood Water Paint

    2019 by McCullough, Joy

    This is not an easy read, but the writing is phenomenal, poignant, and based on a true story. I read this when it first came out and I still think of it regularly. Recommended by Becca

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  • Here Is the Beehive

    2020 by Crossan, Sarah

    A debut about a love affair cut short, and how lonely it is to live inside a secret. Recommended by Cecilia

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  • Clap When You Land

    2020 by Acevedo, Elizabeth

    This imaginative and powerful story works really well in verse. Acevedo gives us the voices of two girls from seemingly impossibly different worlds, who have every reason to resent each other, and then lets the need for connection, forgiveness, and family win the day. Recommended by Lukie

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  • Sharp Teeth

    2009 by Barlow, Toby

    An ancient race of lycanthropes has survived to the present day, and its numbers are growing as the initiated convince L.A.'s down and out to join their pack. Paying no heed to moons, full or otherwise, they change from human to canine at will—and they're bent on domination at any cost. Caught in the middle are Anthony, a kind-hearted, besotted dogcatcher, and the girl he loves, a female werewolf who has abandoned her pack. Recommended by Lukie

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  • A Time to Dance

    2014 by Venkatraman, Padma

    Flowing free verse tells the story of a teenage dancer in Chennai, India, who loses a leg and learns how to dance again. Kirkus sums it up best, "A beautiful integration of art, religion, compassion, and connection." Recommended by Becca

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  • Because I Am Furniture

    2009 by Chaltas, Thalia

    Chaltas uses poems and verse to tell the harrowing story of a family suffering both physical and sexual abuse at the hands of the father. Anke is the youngest and thus far the only of her three siblings to escape her dad's abuse. She joins the volleyball team and slowly discovers her power to speak up. Recommended by Lynnanne

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  • Long Way Down

    2017 by Reynolds, Jason

    A modern retelling of a “Christmas Carol” with a focus on current events--on every floor, a ghost gets on with Will and shows him another piece of the past, present, and future--they show him what is and what could be. Much like the original tale, the ghosts in the elevator don’t experience time in the same way the living do. Poetry is the perfect medium for this book. The majority of the book takes place within the space of an elevator ride, in just over one minute’s time. A must read. Recommended by Becca

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  • The Black Flamingo

    2020 by Atta, Dean

    A bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness. Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers--to show ourselves to the world in bold color. I devoured this book in one evening. It is fabulous and unforgettable. Recommended by Becca

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  • Shout: A Poetry Memoir

    2019 by Anderson, Laurie Halse

    Written, in part, because of the outrage of how little has changed since she wrote Speak 20 years ago, Epic Reads says, "Anderson shares reflections, rants, and calls to action woven between deeply personal stories from her life that she’s never written about before. Searing and soul-searching, this important memoir is a denouncement of our society’s failures and a love letter to all the people with the courage to say #metoo and #timesup, whether aloud, online, or only in their own hearts." Recommended by Becca

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  • Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish: A Novel

    2013 by Rakoff, David

    This is a very grim book written in rhyming iambic tetrameter. NPR called it, "moving, amusing, lilting, crushing." So, it's not for everyone. But maybe it is for you? Recommended by Becca

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  • Sold

    2006 by McCormick, Patricia

    Well-researched and heart-breaking, this novel in verse is shockingly eye-opening. The issues of sexual violence and being sold into prostitution are told honestly. Patricia McCormick shines a bright light on a world that many do not even know exists. Recommended by Paul

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  • The Beauty of the Husband: A Fictional Essay in 29 Tangos

    2001 by Carson, Anne

    This book is best described by Publisher's Weekly, "The 29 short chapters Carson calls "Tangos" imagine and analyze, in jaggedly memorable verse, the ill-starred romance between the narrator and her charismatic, needy, and unfaithful husband, who writes her romantic letters in her teenage years, introduces her to his tragic friend Ray, cheats on her with women, takes her on a tour of the Peloponnese and begs her to reverse her decision to leave him. The plot emerges through Carson's meditative, elusive fragments, mysteriously isolated couplets, excerpts from versified conversations and letters, interior monologues and digressions on matters of classical scholarship." Recommended by Lukie

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  • Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse

    1998 by Carson, Anne

    An award-winning poet bridges the gap between modernity and classism, prose and poetry, with an evocative journey into the soul of a winged red monster named Geryon, who retreats into the world of photography after losing a male lover. Recommended by Cecilia

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  • In Parenthesis

    1962 by Jones, David

    A memorial to his experience in the trenches of the Great War, Jones' humble and profound prose poem is considered by T.S. Eliot and W.B. Yeats to be one of the masterpieces of 20th century literature. Recommended by Lukie

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  • The Golden Gate: A Novel in Verse

    1991 by Seth, Vikram

    Winner of the Sahitya Akademi Award for English, by the Sahitya Akademi, India's National Academy of Letters. The Guardian states, "inspired by the poetic structure of Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin and is written in the iambic tetrameter he used . . . this is a triumph simply for managing to sustain its form throughout." Recommended by Becca

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  • Poet X

    2019 by Acevedo, Elizabeth

    As Kirkus stated, "Poignant and real, beautiful and intense, this story of a girl struggling to define herself is as powerful as Xiomara's name: "one who is ready for war."" It is an outstanding book. I highly recommend the audio as it is read by the author who is also an award-winning slam poet. She is so great that we added both of her novels in verse to this list. Recommended by Becca

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  • The Long Take

    2019 by Robertson, Robin

    This book was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2018, and Kirkus states, "Robertson serves up an epic poem of homelessness, dislocation, and inequality—set not today, though it could have been, but instead in the years after World War II." Recommended by Becca

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