Up until this year, the only novel in verse I have ever read is Karen Hesse’s Out of the Dust, which I thought was rich and engaging, but for some reason I haven’t picked up another verse novel since, until I heard about May B. by Caroline Starr Rose. May B. has been compared to the Little House on the Prairie books.


And then of course Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai won the Newbery Honor and National book award, and I drank that up as well.

Both of these stories are powerful and important in their own ways—one of a girl stranded on the prairie in winter, and the other of a girl thrown into a foreign world, where some of her challenges in America seem more painful than the war in her homeland of Saigon. It can’t be denied that part of their power comes from their format. What I find so amazing is that so much depth and and feeling can be crammed into so few words, but I suppose that is the power of poetry. The verse style makes them quick and powerful. Every word sinks in and holds meaning. Nothing is wasted. The words are few, but in the end, I think these books filled me with more power and meaning than many other books with ten times more words. 
What verse novels have you enjoyed? 


    • Suzi

    • July 3, 2012

    • 1:18 pm

    I finished Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams recently. I liked it a lot. I was a little nervous about the almost 500 pages, but I forgot that those pages are filled with about 1/4 of the words as a normal book. It went fast.

    I also really enjoyed Because I am Furniture and Crank.

  1. Oh, I’ve been wanting to read Glimpse! I will check it out. The others sound great too.

  2. I didn’t know Carol Lynch Williams had written a verse novel! And I’ve yet to read Inside Out and Back Again. Must get reading…

    • Robin

    • July 6, 2012

    • 10:10 pm

    Three Rivers Rising about the Johnston Flood comes to mind. I’m not sure if I’ve read others but this one I’d highly recommend.

    I’m adding these book to my TBR. I know you enjoyed these books in verse, but do you think MG readers would too?

  3. I tip my head to writers of novels-in-verse. They’re extremely difficult, and I don’t think just any writer can write them, not even any good writer whose prose is publishable.

    I still need to check out MAY B., but I, too, liked THREE RIVERS RISING just because I thought the author nailed the characters’ reaction to the flood. Having been in a small flood myself, I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to watch that wall of water rush down that canyon.

    P.S. Liesl, are you sure you didn’t just pick up INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN because RUMP will have the same cover artist? 🙂

  4. I’ve heard of May B, but I had no idea Inside Out & Back again was in verse! Definitely want to check this out now.

    The person I always think of when it comes to novels in verse is Lisa Schroder. I had the same thought about power and depth being crammed into such a short span after reading her “I Heart You, You Haunt Me.” Her stuff is generally just so lovely and unique. But she’s mostly the only other ones I know of. Wish I could give you more recommendations.

    (And sidenote: Discovered your debut while doing agent research recently, and am super excited to read it. Looks like tons of fun!)


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