Lisa Schroeder’s Recommendations: Nine Verse Novels

If you’ve fallen in love with verse novels after reading any of the YA books by our April Book of the Month author Lisa Schroeder — or are interested in exploring the genre further — then you’re in luck. Today, we’re featuring a selection of recommended verse novels from Lisa herself:

Reaching for Sun by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer

Josie Wyatt knows what it means to be different. Her family’s small farmhouse seems to shrink each time another new mansion goes up behind it. Her mom is demanding, her gran is opinionated, and her father-well, she’s never known him. Then there’s her cerebral palsy: even if Josie wants to forget that she was born with a disability, her mom can’t seem to let it go. Yet when a strange new boy-Jodan- moves into one of the houses nearby, he seems oblivious to all the things that make Josie different. And before long, Josie finds herself reaching for something she’s never really known: a friend…and possibly more.  Interlinked free-verse poems tell the beautiful, heartfelt story of a girl, a proud family farm reduced to a garden, and a year of unforgettable growth.

Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham

On a sunny day in June, at the beach with her mom and brother, fifteen-year-old Jane Arrowood went for a swim. And then everything — absolutely everything — changed. Now she’s counting down the days until she returns to school with her fake arm, where she knows kids will whisper, “That’s her — that’s Shark Girl,” as she passes. In the meantime there are only questions: Why did this happen? Why her? What about her art? What about her life? In this striking first novel, Kelly Bingham uses poems, letters, telephone conversations, and newspaper clippings to look unflinchingly at what it’s like to lose part of yourself – and to summon the courage it takes to find yourself again.

Hugging the Rock by Susan Taylor Brown

What do you do when your mom runs away from home?

Rachel retreats into herself–away from the father who has always kept his distance, away from school, and away from her best friend. Rachel’s mom says that her dad is a rock, the good kind you can always count on. But Rachel doesn’t even know if he really loves her. And she doesn’t know the secrets he’s kept since before she was born. Slowly, over time, Rachel grows close to the parent who stayed and comes to understand the truth of why her mom left.

This bittersweet story of loss and revelation reveals the powerful and complex bond between fathers and daughters.

What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones

My name is Sophie.
This book is about me.
It tells
the heart-stoppingly riveting story
of my first love.
And also of my second.
And, okay, my third love too.

It’s not that I’m boy crazy.
It’s just that even though
I’m almost fifteen
it’s like
my mind
and my body
and my heart
just don’t seem to be able to agree
on anything.

Rubber Houses by Ellen Yeomans

Typical teenager Kit lives a happy, normal life of friends,boys, and loving family. She and her younger brother, Buddy, are incredibly close despite their eight-year age difference, bonded by a shared love of baseball and math. But when Buddy is taken suddenly by cancer, Kit and herparents struggle to survive. Told in spare, lyrical verse, Rubber Houses is a powerful novel that perfectly captures the intense and excruciating pain of the loss of a loved one, and the slow but gradual hope of living again and finding one’s way back home.

Home of the Brave by Kathy Applegate

Kek comes from Africa.

In America, he sees the snow for the first time, and feels its sting. Hes never walked on ice, and he falls. He wonders if the people in this new place will be like the wintercold and unkind.

In Africa, Kek lived with his mother, father, and brother. But only he and his mother have survived, and now shes missing. Kek is on his own. Slowly, he makes friends: a girl who is in foster care, and old woman who owns a rundown farm, and a cow whose name means “family” in his native language. As Kek awaits word of his mothers fate, he weathers the tough Minnesota winter by finding warmth in his few friendships, strength in his memories, and belief in his new country.

Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff

When she answers a babysitting ad, 14-year-old LaVaughn meets Jolly, a 17-year-old single mother with two kids by different fathers. As she helps Jolly make lemonade out of the lemons her life has given her, LaVaughn learns some lessons about making choices in this multiple award-winning and groundbreaking novel.

Heartbeat by Sharon Creech

Heartbeat is the story of twelve-year-old Annie, who loves to run for the sheer pleasure of running. It’s when she feels the most free in a year when everything seems to be shifting. Her mother is pregnant, her grandfather is aging, and her best friend, Max, is increasingly moody. Everything is changing, just like the apple that Annie has been assigned to draw one hundred times.

The story is told in free verse, exploring the friendship between Annie and Max, and Annie’s changing relationships with her mother and grandfather. Annie is attempting to understand not only herself and her place in her family, but also to understand those around her. At the same time, she is attempting to understand larger, more complex questions: how we become who we are, and to what degree we should conform; how we are unique and yet how we are all alike.

Pieces of Georgia by Jen Bryant

Like her mother, Georgia McCoy is an artist, but her dad looks away whenever he sees her with a sketchbook. Sometimes it’s hard to remember what it was like when her mother was still alive … when they were a family … when they were happy. But then a few days after her 13th birthday, Georgia receives an unexpected gift—a strange, formal letter, all typed up and signed anonymously—granting her free admission to the Brandywine River Museum for a whole year. And things begin to change.

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