Novels in Verse

Most novels in verse annoy me because I’m not sure why they’re not in prose. They’re more interrupted lines rather than poetry. A few are works of poetry (see Sonya Sones—especially Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy) and a few need to be brief because of topic (see Patricia McCormick’s Sold), but often they’re just…short.


Of course, sometimes I like to read something short, something I can sit down and read in an afternoon or evening. And, truthfully, after a few pages when I get caught up in the characters and the story, I don’t notice the form that much anymore.


My first book read for 2012 was the verse novel, Three Rivers Rising by Jame Richards. This is a historical novel that takes place in 1889 when the Johnstown Flood wiped out several towns in Pennsylvania. The flood was caused when a dam for a fishing pond at a wealthy resort dumped 20 million tons of water on the valley below.

The story is told in verse, alternating between wealthy Celestia, the hired boy from the village she falls in love with Peter, a nurse, Celestia’s father, and others. Class consciousness, which has partially caused this flood, is evident in the love story between Celestia and Peter. I was so caught up in the story, I didn’t notice how late it was until I finished. Read this one!


Other novels in verse you might enjoy:

Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse (about living in the Dust Bowl)

Exposed by Kim Marcus (about an abusive relationship with a best friend’s brother)

Ringside, 1925 by Jen Bryant (about the Scopes monkey trial)

Day of Tears by Julius Lester (about a slave auction)

Happy New Year and Happy Reading!