Thursday, July 01, 2010

Verse Novels: Heartbeat and What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know

I don't know how or why I picked up my first verse novel, but I love them now. I just wish I knew which other verse novels to pick up! I always feel like there's something so personal about telling a story through poetry.

Heartbeat by Sharon Creech - A touching story about a young girl finding her identity and learning how it fits with the many rhythms of life. Annie loves running, drawing, and her family. She has a best friend called Max who also loves running, but things are not so great in Max's life. As the two come to terms with growing up and getting on and dealing with the many events and pressures around them a new and wonderful rhythm is established. A classic novel by a Carnegie Medal-winning author.

The first verse novel I'm going to talk about is Heartbeat by Sharon Creech. I'd never read anything by Sharon Creech before. She's put in the middle grade section of my library, but I was able to enjoy it just fine and it never once felt like it was aimed at a younger audience, even though I guess it is.

What I loved most about Heartbeat is how much Sharon Creech was able to fit into the story with so few words. The girl's interest in running, her mom's pregnancy. The drawing of the apples, her best friend Max's mood swings, her relationship with her grandfather. She really is struggling to find her place in the world and where she belongs in it all. The whole structure of it seemed to work perfectly and when I finished this book I had a big smile on my face. It's such a sweet story. I shall have to look out for other books by the same author!

What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones - My name is Robin.

This book is about me.

It tells the story of what happens

when after almost 15 pathetic years of loserdom,

the girl of my dreams finally falls for me.

That seems like it would be

a good thing, right?

Only it turns out to be

a lot more complicated than that

Because I'm not gonna lie to you --

there are naked women involved.

Four of them, to be exact.

Though not in the way you might think.

Don't get me wrong -- my girlfriend's amazing.

But the way things have been going lately,

I'm starting to believe that the only thing worse

than not getting what you want,

is getting it.

Let me just start right here and say that I adore Sonya Sones. And I -loved- What My Mother Doesn't Know. This is the sequel, told from the point of view of Robin Murphy. He's just gotten together with Sophie despite being a social outcast at school. And things are wonderful... and he gets this amazing opportunity to take an art class at the university. ...A 'life drawing' class. And Robin feels like he's finally fitting in someplace. So when things start becoming strained between him and Sophie, and Sophie begins being ostracised at school, Robin starts to doubt his relationship with Sophie and begins to revel in this art class where nobody knows he's a 'Murphy.'

I really loved this one. I absolutely adored Robin Murphy in What My Mother Doesn't Know, and I read reviews that said Robin isn't as perfect and swoon-worthy in this book. But I thought he was. His mistakes and his out of control hormonal feelings made him into a real person in this book, and I think complex, interesting characters are always a good thing. I loved how this book is so sweet and funny and awkward all at the same time.

Other novels in verse (for teens) I'd be interested in reading include everything written by Ellen Hopkins. One Of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies by Sonya Sones. Far From You and Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Shroeder. Realm of Possibility by David Levithan. Jacqueline Woodson?

Have you read any of these novels in verse? Any you'd like to recommend?


  1. Have added Heartbeat to my wishlist :D
    I really enjoyed Lisa Schroeder's I heart you, You haunt me as well :D
    Ellen Hopkins is awesome.

  2. It's so brilliant to read this. I love Sonya Sones! Oh, and one of my all-time favourite verse novels is A Bad Boy Can Be Good For a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone - I highly recommend it!

  3. The only ones I've read are Sonya Sones- I loved What my Mother Doesn't Know and then TODAY I picked up and read One of Those Hideous Books Where The Mother Dies. I think I preferred the first, but it was still good. It wasn't as meaty, just quick and over. Still, I think I might have to pick up this one (What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know) to round out the set!

  4. I save certain books too. But not for the same reasons as you. I just don't want to start reading them because I know that once I do, I won't be able to put them down and then they'll be over!
    I don't think I can recall ever having a book save me but I've also never really had to deal with anything too difficult in my life. I'm so glad to hear that books were (and are) able to do that for you.

  5. Oops. The above comment should be on the following post. Duh. Sorry about that!

  6. I enjoyed Far from You by Lisa Schroeder. Heartbeat is wonderful, of course. I haven't read anything by Sonya Sones. I'll have to add her to my list.

    I highly recommend Because I Am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas. It is a haunting, beautiful story told from the perspective of a girl growing up with an abusive father.

    For lighter reading I recommend Love that Dog and its sequel, Hate that Cat, by Sharon Creech. They are written for the younger crowd, but they are truly wonderful.

    Karen Hesse is another author of wonderful verse novels. Out of the Dust is one of my favorites.


HI! Thank you for leaving a comment, you've just become my new best friend :)