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

I received this book for free from Library, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

5 More Verse Books You Must Check OutClap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
Published by HarperCollins on May 5, 2020
Genres: Coming of Age, Family, Hispanic & Latino, Novels in Verse, People & Places, United States, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 432
Format: eARC, Hardcover
Source: Library, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
five-stars

In a novel-in-verse that brims with grief and love, National Book Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.
Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…
In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.
Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.
And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other. 
Great for summer reading or anytime! Clap When You Land is a Today show pick for “25 children’s books your kids and teens won’t be able to put down this summer!"
Plus don't miss Elizabeth Acevedo's The Poet X and With the Fire on High!

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

I received this book for free from Library, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

5 More Verse Books You Must Check OutThe Truth Project by Dante Medema
Published by HarperCollins on October 13, 2020
Genres: Young Adult Fiction / Family / Adoption, Young Adult Fiction / Novels in Verse, Young Adult Fiction / Social Themes / Emotions & Feelings, Young Adult Fiction / Technology
Pages: 400
Format: eARC, Hardcover
Source: Library, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
five-stars

“A heart-wrenching quest for identity every YA reader will relate to, and a deep dive into the meaning of family." —Ellen Hopkins, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Debut author Dante Medema explores the emotional fallout after a teenage girl discovers she is the product of an affair. Told through a series of poems, text messages, and emails, this contemporary YA is perfect for fans of Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin.

Seventeen-year-old Cordelia Koenig intended to breeze through her senior project. While her peers stressed, Cordelia planned to use the same trace-your-roots genealogy idea her older sister used years prior. And getting partnered with her longtime crush, Kodiak Jones, is icing on the cake. All she needs to do is mail in her DNA sample, write about her ancestry results, and get that easy A.

But when Cordelia’s GeneQuest results reveal that her father is not the person she thought he was, but a stranger who lives thousands of miles away, her entire world shatters. Now she isn’t sure of anything—not the mother who lied, the man she calls Dad, or the girl staring back at her in the mirror.

If your life began with a lie, how can you ever be sure of what's true?

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.

@realbooksandwine

#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

I received this book for free from Library, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

5 More Verse Books You Must Check OutJunk Boy by Tony Abbott
Published by HarperCollins on October 13, 2020
Genres: Young Adult Fiction / Novels in Verse, Young Adult Fiction / Social Themes / Physical & Emotional Abuse, Young Adult Fiction / Social Themes / Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
Pages: 368
Format: eARC, Hardcover
Source: Library, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
two-stars

Bestselling author Tony Abbott’s YA novel-in-verse is an unflinching and heartbreaking look at a boy’s junk-filled life, and the ways he finds redemption and hope, perfect for fans of The Crossover and Long Way Down.

Junk. That’s what the kids at school call Bobby Lang, mostly because his rundown house looks like a junkyard, but also because they want to put him down. Trying desperately to live under the radar at school—and at the home he shares with his angry, neglectful father—Bobby develops a sort of proud loneliness. The only buffer between him and the uncaring world is his love of the long, wooded trail between school and home.

Life grinds along quietly and hopelessly for Bobby until he meets Rachel. Rachel is an artist who sees him in a way no one ever has. Maybe it’s because she has her own kind of junk, and a parent who hates what Rachel is: gay. Together the two embark on journeys to clean up the messes that fill their lives, searching against all odds for hope and redemption.

Narrated in Bobby’s unique voice in arresting free verse, this novel will captivate readers right from its opening lines, urging them on page after page, all the way to its explosive conclusion.

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.

@realbooksandwine

#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

I received this book for free from Library, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

5 More Verse Books You Must Check OutIf I Tell You the Truth by Jasmin Kaur
Published by HarperCollins on January 19, 2021
Genres: Young Adult Fiction / Diversity & Multicultural, Young Adult Fiction / Girls & Women, Young Adult Fiction / Novels in Verse, Young Adult Fiction / Social Themes / Emigration & Immigration, Young Adult Fiction / Social Themes / Pregnancy, Young Adult Fiction / Social Themes / Sexual Abuse
Pages: 464
Format: eARC, Hardcover
Source: Library, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
five-stars

Perfect for fans of Elizabeth Acevedo and Rupi Kaur, this heartrending story told in prose, poetry, and illustration weaves together the stories of a mother and daughter’s lives.

In this stunning sophomore novel, acclaimed writer Jasmin Kaur explores trauma, fear, courage, community, and the healing power of love in its many forms.

Kiran flees her home in Punjab for a fresh start in Canada after a sexual assault leaves her pregnant. But overstaying her visa and living undocumented brings its own perils for both her and her daughter, Sahaara.

Sahaara would do anything to protect her mother. When she learns the truth about Kiran’s past, she feels compelled to seek justice—even if it means challenging a powerful and dangerous man.

if i tell you the truth

that i’ve dug

from the hardened depths

of this shrapnel-filled dirt

with these aching, bloody hands

would you believe me?

would you still love me?

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

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

5 More Verse Books You Must Check OutWhen We Make It by Elisabet Velasquez
Narrator: Elisabet Velasquez
Length: 4 Hours 6 Minutes
Published by Penguin on December 18, 2021
Genres: Young Adult Fiction / Coming of Age, Young Adult Fiction / Novels in Verse, Young Adult Fiction / People & Places / United States / Hispanic & Latino
Pages: 384
Format: Audiobook, eARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
five-stars

The energy. The clarity. The beauty. Elisabet Velasquez brings it all. . . . Her voice is FIRE!--New York Times bestselling author Jacqueline Woodson

An unforgettable, torrential, and hopeful debut young adult novel-in-verse that redefines what it means to make it," for readers of Nicholasa Mohr and Elizabeth Acevedo.

Sarai is a first-generation Puerto Rican eighth grader who can see with clarity the truth, pain, and beauty of the world both inside and outside her Bushwick apartment. Together with her older sister Estrella, she navigates the strain of family traumas and the systemic pressures of toxic masculinity and housing insecurity in a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn. Sarai questions the society around her, her Boricua identity, and the life she lives with determination and an open heart, learning to celebrate herself in a way that she has been denied.

When We Make It is a love letter to anyone who was taught to believe that they would not make it. To those who feel their emotions before they can name them. To those who still may not have all the language but they have their story. Velasquez' debut novel is sure to leave an indelible mark on all who read it.

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.


five-stars
The following two tabs change content below.
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.

%d bloggers like this: