Have you noticed that recently more and more books are being written in verse? We certainly have, and we’ve been absolutely loving it! Here at Little English Bookworm we are often asked to recommend class texts. Choosing a good class text can be hard: the novel needs to be challenging, but accessible for everyone to read; thought-provoking, but also enjoyable. In essence, we need books that will not only make you a better reader, but also learn to love reading.
Which is where verse novels come in. Although a book written in poetry may not be most people’s idea of “accessible” you’d be surprised at just how easy it is to gobble a verse novel up. The fact that these books are written through poetry doesn’t make them more difficult to understand, it does the opposite. Because there are fewer words, the thoughts that the authors choose to express are meticulously polished and concise. All those page long sentences that Dickens was so fond of? Gone. The language is beautiful and all the other aspects that you expect from a novel are fully present: loveable characters, a riveting plot and stimulating themes.
A theme that we particularly love in verse novels is female empowerment. As May is mental health month, we thought it would be particularly fitting to include books that detail mental health struggles that girls around the world go through whether that be girls finding their voices, rising to challenges or learning to love themselves. It’s always important to address these issues and particularly during quarantine, a time which can feel very isolating, being able to relate to and find solace in a book is more important than ever!
Toffee by Sarah Crossan - available now
Of course, we had to start this blog post with the queen of verse novels herself, Sarah Crossan. Toffee is her most recently published young adult book and it doesn’t disappoint. The novel follows a teenage girl called Allison who has run away from her troubled home. She finds shelter with an elderly woman, who mistakes Allison from someone else from her past. As the novel progresses, Allison faces some hard choices and is forced to confront some difficult truths about family, friendship and her own identity.
We loved this book! It was poignant, memorable and as always incredibly written.
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo - available now
Another incredible writer of fiction in verse is Elizabeth Acevedo. You may have heard of her other verse novel, The Poet X (it won a Carnegie Medal) and her newest book, released in May this year, is equally incredible. It follows two girls, Camino, who lives in the Dominican Republic, and Yahaira, who lives in New York. Although the girls don’t even know each other exist, when a plane flying from New York to the Dominican Republic crash lands, the two young women are about to find out that they share the same father… and that their father died in the plane crash. Elizabeth Acevedo deftly portrays the struggles of grief and families coping with the aftermath of their loss. The book is both emotional and compelling and definitely worth the read.
3. Blood Moon by Lucy Cuthew, available July 2020
Unlike the authors mentioned before, Blood Moon is the author’s debut young adult novel, which may come as a surprise considering how confidently and unflinchingly it was written. When the protagonist, Frankie, has her first sexual experience with a boy, she gets her period. Of course, Frankie is mortified, but these things happen and the boy reassures her that its ok. And it would have been ok, but somehow the whole school found out about it and now Frankie’s peers aren’t willing to let it go.
A captivating examination of sexuality, social media bullying, friendship and much more, this book is a must for any teenage girl to learn to accept herself (and her period) in the modern world.
Run, Rebel by Manjeet Mann, available now
Another debut young adult novel, Run, Rebel is equally excellent to all the other books. It tells the story of Amber, the daughter of two Indian immigrant parents. Amber’s dad is controlling and abusive and the only escape Amber has is her running… which Amber’s dad has now also forbidden.
This book was incredible and a real eye-opener for me to the struggles that many children face in abusive households. Heart-felt, educating and gripping, I would recommend this book to everyone!