Thursday, April 5, 2012

Novels in Verse: Drugs, Sex, Death, and Heaven


It's National Poetry Month! Time to study sonnets written by men in white wigs, right? Not necessarily. Edgy teen books written in verse is a hot area of publishing today, one that drags stanzas and meter into the realms of drugs, sex, war, murder, pregnancy, and suicide. You won't be bored! (Click on the titles to place holds, or go to our eBooks.

By Ellen Hopkins

Five troubled teenagers fall into prostitution as they search for freedom, safety, community, family, and love. Other novels by Ellen Hopkins, queen of edgy books in verse, include Perfect, Glass, Fallout, Identical, Impulse, Burned, and Crank.


All the Broken Pieces
By Ann Burg

Two years after being airlifted out of Vietnam in 1975, Matt Pin is haunted by the terrible secret he left behind. Now in a loving adoptive home in the United States, a series of profound events forces him to confront his past. One of last year's South Carolina Junior Book Award nominees.

Blue Plate Special
By Michelle D. Kwasney

In alternating chapters, this story shifts among the lives of three struggling 15-year-old girls being raised by single mothers in small New York cities. Ultimately, their stories converge as they cope with the hands they've been dealt. One of this year's South Carolina Young Adult Book Award nominees.

Under the Mesquite
By Guadalupe Garcia McCall

When Lupita learns her mother has cancer, she is terrified by the possibility of losing the anchor of her close-knit family. Suddenly, being a high school student, starring in a play, and dealing with friends who don't always understand become less important than doing whatever she can to save Mami's life.

Song of the Sparrow
By Lisa Ann Sandell

Since the days of King Arthur, there have been poems and paintings created in her name. The year is 490 A.D., and 16-year-old Elaine has a temperament to match her fiery red hair. But when the cruel and beautiful Gwynivere arrives, Elaine is confronted with jealousy and rivalry.


By Holly Thompson

After a classmate commits suicide, Kana Goldberg—half Japanese, half Jewish-American—wonders who is responsible. After all, she and her cliquey friends said some thoughtless things to the girl. Then, Kana's parents pack her off to her mother's ancestral home in Japan for the summer where her mixed heritage makes it hard to fit in.

The Realm of Possibility
By David Levithan

Poems introduce readers to a group of friends and acquaintances, including a gay couple celebrating their one-year anniversary, a girl whose mother is dying, and an outsider who fills his notebook with "ink explosions of thought."

Heaven Looks A Lot Like the Mall
By Wendy Mass

When high school junior Tessa Reynolds falls into a coma after getting hit in the head during gym class, she experiences heaven as the mall where her parents work. She revisits key events from her life, causing her to reevaluate herself and how she wants to live.

One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies
By Sonya Sones

Ruby leaves her best friend, her boyfriend, her aunt, and her mother's grave in Boston and flies to Los Angeles to live with her father, a famous movie star who divorced her mother before Ruby was born. Other Sonya Sones books: What My Mother Doesn't Know, What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know, Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy.

By Patricia McCormick

Lakshmi leaves her poor mountain home in Nepal thinking that she is to work in the city as a maid only to find that she has been sold into the sex-slave trade in India and that there is no hope of escape.

Make Lemonade
By Virginia Ewer Wolff

At 17, Jolly can't really spell. She doesn't have much of a job either. She does have two little kids from two absent fathers. So she posts a notice on the school bulletin board: BABYSITTER NEEDED BAD. No one replies except Verna LaVaughn, who's only 14. How much help can she be?

A Girl Named Mister
By Nikki Grimes

A pregnant teen finds support and forgiveness from God through a book of poetry presented from the Virgin Mary's perspective. Other Nikki Grimes books: Planet Middle School, Bronx Masquerade, Jazmin’s Notebook, Dark Sons.


Planet Pregnancy
By Linda Oatman High

At 16, Sahara's life and future depend on the color of a little stick. She waits three long minutes, praying that she isn't pregnant. Instead, the stick turns pink, and Sahara's life changes in a heartbeat.

The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic
By Allan Wolf

This book recreates the 1912 sinking of the Titanic as observed by millionaire John Jacob Astor, a beautiful young Lebanese refugee finding first love, "Unsinkable" Molly Brown, Captain E.J. Smith, and others (including the iceberg itself).

By Kimberly Marcus

Liz, a gifted photographer, no longer sees things clearly after her best friend accuses Liz's older brother of rape. As the aftershocks rip through Liz's world, everything she thought she knew about photography, family, friendship, and herself shifts out of focus.

Cold Skin
By Steven Herrick

In a rural Australian coal-mining town shortly after World War II, Eddie makes a startling discovery when he investigates the murder of a local high school girl.

Wicked Girls: A Novel of the Salem Witch Trials
By Stephanie Hemphill

This fictionalized account of the Salem witch trials is told from the perspective of three young women living in Salem in 1692: Mercy Lewis, Margaret Walcott, and Ann Putnam, Jr.

Yellow Star
By Jennifer Roy

In 1940, Syvia Perlmutter was just 4 when her mother, father and older sister, Dora, were among the first of more than 250,000 Jews forced into Poland's Lodz Ghetto. When Russians liberated Lodz in 1945, Syvia was one of just 12 children to survive.

Street Love
By Walter Dean Myers

Damien is a high achiever accepted to Brown University. Junice has just lost her mother to prison and is trying to keep her younger sister and her grandmother together as a family. As they fall in love, Damien and Junice question who they are and who they will become.

Keesha’s House
By Helen Frost

Seven teens facing such problems as pregnancy, closeted homosexuality, and abuse each describe in poetic forms what caused them to leave home and where they found home again.

Fattening Hut
By Pat Lowery Collins

A teenage girl living on a tropical island runs away to escape her tribe's customs of arranged marriages and female genital mutilation.

Remember to click on any title to reserve it, or search our eBooks here.

P.S: If you love poetry, head to the Main library on April 22 at 3 p.m. to meet Jenny Hubbard, author of Paper Covers Rock, a fantastic book about a boy who writes poetry after the death of a good friend. Jenny will discuss writing poetry for novels and even give us a sneak peak at part of her next book! Call (843) 805-6845 or email to register for this free event.

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