April is National Poetry Month, and what better way to celebrate than, well, by reading poetry? If poetry is your thing (and even if it isn’t!), mix things up this month with some young adult novels in verse. These books combine the best of both worlds: the deeply impactful, engrossing storylines of a novel, with the linguistic lyricism of poetry. Check out a couple of these excellent, quick reads (or listens — all audiobooks here are four hours long or less) to get your poetry fix.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
In this beautiful, award-winning debut novel by acclaimed slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo, Xiomara Batista grapples with religion, identity, and all of the complexities of being a teenager through the medium of slam poetry. If you have ever felt unsure or unheard and are looking for your voice, this one’s for you. Give this a listen if you can — Acevedo narrates the audiobook in expert slam poet fashion and it is superb.
Bull by David Elliott
David Elliott’s Bull takes on the classic story of Theseus and the Minotaur and twists it into a rowdy, witty, Hamilton-esque myth-in-verse for the modern age. This dark comedy gives an unexpected, behind-the-scenes view of one of Greek mythology’s most infamous monsters and his cohorts. Sass abounds as some of the all-time Greek mythology greats chime in with their lyrical two cents. Ever wondered what it would be like if Poseidon could rap? Wonder no more. Warning for some explicit language, and also a warning for laughing your socks off.
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Jason Reynolds began his life as a poet before going on to become an award-winning and prolific middle grade and young adult novelist. Long Way Down is his return to the world of poetry, and it is one heck of a homecoming. This is a dark, dizzying, and often difficult read about teenage gun violence, the lengths we will go to for the people we love, and the ghosts of the past that we just can’t shake. Reynolds narrates the powerful audio version of this book, which is well worth a listen.
Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson
Laurie Halse Anderson’s deeply personal poetic memoir will break your heart — in the best way. She recounts her life, through poetry, and all of the events that were the basis for her modern classic, Speak. It is brave, touching, and raw, and will leave you with a healthy dose of righteous indignation and a little more courage than you came here with. Give a listen to the audiobook, too — it’s really something special to hear the author give voice to her own story.