The long poem for young readers is not a new phenomenon. reminds us that book-length dramatic monologues were used in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to present young readers with didactic stories, reflecting the belief that the physical action of recitation would reinforce the moral message (p. 219). The revival of the verse novel began tentatively in the 1990s with works for adults by writers such as Derek Walcott, Dorothy Porter, and Fred D’Aguiar, and for young adults at roughly the same time with novels by Virginia Euwer Wolff and Karen Hesse. The form for young adults has become an important publishing trend since the turn of this century. A quick look at one of the better Internet lists of verse novels for young adults—the one provided by the Edmonton, Alberta, public library ( )—shows that of the 125 books in their holdings under that category, only five were published in the twentieth century. And as seems to be true in the smaller adult market for the verse novel, the young adult market features writers who have published more than one such novel. Karen Hesse, Ron Koertge, Allan Wolf, Margaret Wild, Angela Johnson, Ellen Hopkins, Nikki Grimes, Mel Glenn—each has more than one verse novel to his or her credit.
My final selection was "Rumble" by Ellen Hopkins, who is well known for writing free verse novels for young adults. In this book, high school senior Matthew speaks out as an atheist after his Christian classmates drive his gay younger brother, Luke, to suicide. Matt’s lack of faith strains his relationship with his Christian girlfriend to the breaking point while, at the same time, his parents’ marriage crumbles.