5 More Verse Books You Must Check Out

5 More Verse Books You MUST Check Out

My reading life this year has really run the gamut of genres and story forms. I am so thankful that I’ve been able to pick up and read a sizable amount of verse books. Even better – the majority that I’ve read have been by marginalized authors which is a priority to me. Verse books are an art form and one that I am so glad I’ve gotten into appreciating. The following books below are ones you should give a shot, particularly if you are apprehensive about this story form. These books represent true excellence in young adult literature.

The following books below are ones you should give a shot, particularly if you are apprehensive about this story form. These books represent true excellence in young adult literature.

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo


Elizabeth Acevedo is an icon. Clap When You Land is the second book I’ve read from Acevedo. It has convinced me that I need to go back and read everything Acevedo has ever written as well as clear my shelves so there’s room for all her books there. As someone who loves verse books, I actually started with a book of Acevedo’s prose, With The Fire On High. I loved that book so much and I think that I loved Clap When You Land exactly the same amount. OMG. Just, there’s so MUCH excellence.

Clap When You Land follows Camino Rios who lives in the Dominican Republic and looks forward to the summers every year when her Papi visits her from America. It also follows Yahaira Rios who lives in Washington Heights with her mother and father. Turns out that Yahaira and Camino are sisters, but have been unaware of the other until this summer when the plane Papi is on crashes. This is a book where the girls are processing their grief, coming to terms with a new understanding of their futures and eventually coming together.

Acevedo’s verse is perfection. The story flows really well. It is easy to differentiate between the voice of Camino and the voice of Yahaira. The book is structured so that we get both perspectives and it kind of goes back and forth. I never thought that the girls sounded too similar. Also, I immediately cared about both characters and wanted both girls to have the happy ending they so deserved. Overall, Clap When You Land is an emotional read with echoes from a plane crash that actually happened — also going to the Dominican Republic. This is a story that I won’t soon forget. It is a MUST read if you’re looking to try more verse books.

The Truth Project by Dante Medema

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I essentially have heard exactly nothing about Dante Medema’s The Truth Project prior to picking it up. Sometimes, that is such a pleasure — going in not knowing a thing. In this case, while the book wasn’t a mystery or anything intense like that, I loved being able to form an opinion that has been influenced by no one else. It turns out, I just LOVED The Truth Project. If you want to read a superb contemporary young adult verse book, here you go!

Cordelia Koenig plans to coast her senior year. After all, the plan is to use her older sister’s senior project – just put her own spin on it. The project involves taking a DNA test and discovering her roots. The results should be the same as her sister. Only, it turns out that Cordelia discovers that her dad isn’t actually her dad. Turns out her dad lives across the country. Meanwhile, Cordelia is spending time cozying up to her project partner Kodiak Jones – who she used to be really good friends with.


#Inverted The Truth Project by Dante Medema #bookreview #over30booktok

♬ Aesthetic Girl – Yusei

I definitely teared up a little while reading The Truth Project. Medema writes Cordelia in such a relatable way. Granted, I have NEVER experienced what she experiences — in fact I got one of those ancestry kits for Christmas just before the pandemic and still haven’t taken it yet. However, I had a lot of empathy for Cordelia. This book was well written and well paced. It was an emotional read and really the verse style perfectly conveyed all the feelings. I would highly recommend you get your hands on this under the radar book.

Junk Boy by Tony Abbott

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The one thing that appealed most to me about Junk Boy by Tony Abbott was that it was a young adult book in verse. Seriously, that’s just about all you have to say to get me to pick something up. Also, I feel like I don’t read a lot of verse books by men about boys. So, that was another part that appealed to me — trying something different. While I did not love this book, it was an okay read and I can see where there’s an audience for it that is not me.

Junk Boy is about Bobby Lang who literally lives off the beaten path in a home that might as well be a junk yard – given that it is full of crap that his father has hoarded. The kids at school call him Junk Boy hence the book’s title. Bobby gets by — he’s not super smart or anything. Anyways, one day, things change for him when he makes his first friend – a girl named Rachel. Rachel happens to be gay and her mom doesn’t approve. She’s also really going through it. Bobby is quite empathetic and caring.


#Inverted Junk Boy by Tony Abbott #bookreview #over30booktok

♬ Outdoors – Colin Tierney

Personally, I didn’t really connect much with this book. It seemed all very surface and did not seem to go deep. The back story was tragic and I felt so sad for Bobby given that he didn’t have a mom and his dad was trash a lot of the time. Also, this is one of the few YA books I’ve read where the main character lives in poverty – which I think is a plus. Overall though, this wasn’t the book for me, but I think that there’s an audience. Certainly boys may be able to connect and also readers who are on the younger end of YA.

If I Tell You The Truth by Jasmin Kaur

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One of the best verse books I’ve picked up this year is If I Tell You The Truth by Jasmin Kaur. Aside from being drawn to the minimalistic cover, I was also persuaded to pick this up by the themes. This book covers sexual assault, illegal immigration, mother-daughter relationships and more. I found that Kaur’s writing really struck a chord with me.

If I Tell You The Truth is told in two parts. First we have the perspective of Kiran, a young Punjabi girl who is in college in Canada. She comes home and is sexually assaulted by her fiance’s brother and ends up pregnant. She comes back to Canada and hides the pregnancy. Kiran is undocumented and decides to raise the baby as a single mother in Canada — especially as no one believes her about the assault.

Eighteen years later, the story picks up but from the perspective of Sahaara, the daughter. Kiran ends up arrested and at risk of deportation, which is how Sahaara ends up finding out the circumstances around her conception. What then results is that the perpetrator runs for political office and Kiran has to decide to speak up years later or not. Sahaara will support her mother the best way she knows how.

I am struck by how good this book was. It is told in a mix of verse, prose, and illustrations. I felt like each form the story took was a deliberate and carefully considered choice. Parts of the book enraged me, I felt so deeply for Kiran and Sahaara. It is hard to be a woman and this book shows that it’s even harder to be an undocumented woman of color who has been victimized by sexual assault (I know that is obvious) but I can appreciate the intersectionality here. If I Tell You The Truth is a book that has flown under the radar, but I am telling you now, it is worth every minute of your time reading it.

When We Make It by Elisabet Velasquez

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You ever read a debut that is so good that immediately afterwards you want to make everyone read it and understand that the author is going to eventually blow up? When We Make It by Elisabet Velasquez was SO excellent. I was shocked that it is a debut — this book is amazing. If you liked With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo or Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, you will LOVE this book. I promise.

When We Make It is set in Bushwick starting in 1996. It follows Sarai who is first generation Puerto Rican. She lives with her sister Estrella and her mother in a rundown apartment. They live a life of poverty and dream of someday making it out. Sarai is introspective and determined. As we read the story, we see that she’s living in a society that is sexist as well as racist – with colorism playing quite the role in her life. Life is hard for Sarai, but there’s good too. This book is one of the most authentic portrayals of poverty I have ever read — right down to access to entitlements and how they are a LIFELINE even if they aren’t always enough. As the story goes on, there is teen pregnancy and post partum depression. Through it all though — Sarai’s voice is so strong.

Normally I do not like audiobooks that are narrated by the author, it just doesn’t sound as good to me as audiobooks narrated by the professionals. Let me tell you, Elisabet Velasquez kills the narration in When We Make It. After listening to this I had a profound need to go around recommending it to everyone. It was amazing. Every inflection, every pause is deliberate. The audiobook really conveys the story the way it is meant to be conveyed. If you want to start getting into audiobooks or verse books – you need When We Make It. The audiobook is four hours and six minutes and just perfection.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

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