People of Color in Novels in Verse

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Every time I try to suggest a novel in verse, it starts off rocky. Please, be skeptical, but don’t close this book list just yet!

A novel in verse is a story told through poetry. That doesn’t mean it all rhymes. That doesn’t even mean it’s quick (although it can be). I have spent way too long poring over a page of a novel in verse, just to drink it in a little more. If you’ve never tried one, please take a look at any of the titles below. You may find a new genre you love. I chose to feature titles with characters of color at center stage, and where possible I have included #OwnVoices authors. For more titles that feature characters of color, check out the Black, Indigenous and People of Color in Books for Teens list.

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Black Flamingo

All his life, Michael has navigated what it means to be Greek-Cypriot and Jamaican—but never quite feeling Greek or Black enough. As he gets older, Michael’s coming out is only the start of learning who he is and where he fits in. When he discovers the Drag Society, he finally finds where he belongs—and the Black Flamingo is born. You can also check out this title as eAudio on Overdrive/Libby.

Long Way Down

Sixty seconds, seven floors, three rules, one gun. Will’s older brother, Shawn, has been shot. Dead. Will feels a sadness so great, he can’t explain it. But in his neighborhood there are the RULES No. 1 :  Crying. Don’t no matter what. No 2:  Snitching. Don’t no matter what. No 3:  Revenge. Do no matter what. But bullets miss. You can get the wrong guy. And there’s always someone else who knows to follow the rules. You can also check out this title as eAudiobook on Hoopla and as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.

The Poet X

Ever since her body grew into curves, Xiomara Batista has felt unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood and she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking, but Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers. You can also check out this title as eAudio on Overdrive/Libby, as eBook on Overdrive/Libby, as eAudio on Hoopla and as eBook on Hoopla.

The Moon Within

Eleven-year-old (nearly twelve) Celi Rivera, who is a mix of Black-Puerto Rican-Mexican Indian is uncomfortable about her approaching period, and the changes that are happening to her body; she is horrified that her mother wants to hold a traditional public moon ceremony to celebrate the occasion–until she finds out that her best friend Magda is contemplating an even more profound change of life. You can also check out this title as eBook on Overdrive/Libby or as eBook in Spanish on Overdrive/Libby.