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Teen

11 YA Novels in Verse Teens Won’t Want to Put Down

by Devon A. Corneal

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Photo credit: Hero Images; Collection: Hero Images

Although it’s an unusual format, a novel in verse is a captivating way to convey the emotion and heart of a story. Think modern-day Shakespeare and you’ll be on the right track, but today’s novels in verse are much more than that. They employ a host of poetic structures to tell stories about the issues teenagers care about most, including finding love, fitting in, and figuring out who you are. Even if your teen isn’t a poetry lover, he or she will find something to love in these 11 stories.

  • Home Is Not a Country

    by Safia Elhillo

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    Nima feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere. Not at school, in her neighborhood, or at home. When she loses her best friend suddenly, her tenuous grasp on life gets threatened. Heartbreaking and hopeful, this novel is a stunning portrayal of a girl who must fight for herself, her family, and her life.

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  • Chlorine Sky

    by Mahogany L. Browne

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    Friend breakups can be just as devastating as romantic ones. When her best friend becomes her biggest bully, Skyy must learn to move on. Battling her doubts, insecurities, and others’ cruelty, Skyy forges ahead to find new friendships and love. It’s an excellent book about a teen who comes to terms with growing up.

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  • Beauty Mark

    by Carole Boston Weatherford

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    Teenagers still adore Marilyn Monroe, and now they can read this lyrical novel-in-verse about her life. From her troubled childhood to her glamorous time in Hollywood, this story captures the joy, triumph, heartbreak, and devastation that filled the actress’s life.

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  • When the Stars Wrote Back

    by Trista Mateer, illustrated by Jessica Cruickshank

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    Based on the popular Instagram account from Trista Mateer, this collection of poems tackles themes such as love, friendship, growing up, and healing from trauma. With verses from the author, fans, and original artwork by Jess Cruickshank, this book is full of empowerment and courage.

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  • We Are the Ashes, We Are the Fire

    by Joy McCullough

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    Sisters, revenge, and poetry collide in this outstanding novel written in verse and prose. After a jury convicts her sister’s rapist on all counts, Em feels elated. But when the judge passes a sentence that doesn’t include prison time, Em’s excitement turns to devastation. Wavering between her desire for revenge and her need to help her family, Em will have to heal before she can move on.

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  • Concrete Kids

    by Amyra León, illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky

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    Using free verse, Amyra Leon takes readers through her childhood experiences with foster care, self-love, and dreaming big. This heartfelt book from the Pocket Change Collective series shows readers how one teenager dealt with grief and healing and offers hope to teens going through difficult times.

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  • Every Body Looking

    by Candice Iloh

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    For many teens, going to college will be the first time they live separately from their families. While this can be challenging, it also offers young people the chance to figure out who they are and take ownership of their choices. This novel-in-verse about a girl discovering herself captures the ups and downs that come with growing up.

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  • William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Clueless

    by Ian Doescher

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    The movie Clueless is a modern interpretation of a Jane Austen novel, but this retelling adds a Shakespearean punch to the mix. Join Cher, Dionne, Tai, and the rest of the cast in this hilarious and fully-illustrated novel-in-verse. With all the matchmaking mischief and retail therapy that made you fall in love with the movie, this book is the feel-good read you need.

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  • Shout

    by Laurie Halse Anderson

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    If you read and loved Laurie Halse Anderson’s novel Speak, you’ll want to add her poetry memoir to your reading stack. The author shares her thoughts and personal experiences in a collection of poems that will educate, inform, and captivate everyone who reads it. It’s a love letter to survivors of sexual assault, encouraging them to stay strong and speak up.

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  • The Realm of Possibility

    by David Levithan

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    The experiences of twenty teenagers from all walks of life swirl together in this complex book of verse. These young people grapple with the fluid and unstable social landscape of an average American high school while struggling with issues like love, sexuality, eating disorders, race, drugs, cliques, and the desire to belong.

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  • Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs

    by Ron Koertge

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    Kevin is a high school baseball player who just happens to really like poetry. Kevin’s love of verse grows when he meets Amy at an open mic poetry night and the two become poetry buddies. They challenge each other to write various forms of poetry like haiku, sestinas, blank verse, and couplets, developing their writing skills and their friendship simultaneously. There’s only one problem, Kevin already has a girlfriend, and his feelings for Amy are starting to get in the way.

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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2015 and updated in 2021.