In May we experimented with YA novels written in verse and read The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan. It was very cool to see how he got stories across with so little words and many of us were ready to delve into more verse novels. Usually we try to recommend a YA book and an ‘adult’ book for our YA picks, but poetic YA isn’t easy to find, so we’re simply recommending two of those! So if you’d like to read some more stories told through poetry, this post is for you! At the end we also share some discussion questions you can use in your own book club.

Melanie Crowder

The inspiring story of Clara Lemlich, whose fight for equal rights led to the largest strike by women in American history

A gorgeously told novel in verse written with intimacy and power, Audacity is inspired by the real-life story of Clara Lemlich, a spirited young woman who emigrated from Russia to New York at the turn of the twentieth century and fought tenaciously for equal rights. Bucking the norms of both her traditional Jewish family and societal conventions, Clara refuses to accept substandard working conditions in the factories on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. For years, Clara devotes herself to the labor fight, speaking up for those who suffer in silence. In time, Clara convinces the women in the factories to strike, organize, and unionize, culminating in the famous Uprising of the 20,000.

Powerful, breathtaking, and inspiring, Audacity is the story of a remarkable young woman, whose passion and selfless devotion to her cause changed the world.

Ellen Hopkins

In Crank, Ellen Hopkins chronicles the turbulent and often disturbing relationship between Kristina, a character based on her own daughter, and the “monster,” the highly addictive drug crystal meth, or “crank.” Kristina is introduced to the drug while visiting her largely absent and ne’er-do-well father.

While under the influence of the monster, Kristina discovers her sexy alter-ego, Bree: “there is no perfect daughter, / no gifted high school junior, / no Kristina Georgia Snow. / There is only Bree.” Bree will do all the things good girl Kristina won’t, including attracting the attention of dangerous boys who can provide her with a steady flow of crank.

Discussion Questions:
– If this was your first experience reading a novel written in verse, then what were your expectations and how do you feel about these kinds of novels afterward?
– What was your favorite story/character?
– Did you find the stories too short to really get into the characters’ minds or did you like getting in and out?

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