For some people, verse novels are unappealing because of the way words are arranged on the page. Others find them too pretentious, too simplistic, too weird. And that’s okay. Readers have the right to feel however they like about certain genres or styles. What I love, though, is when readers are willing to try something new.
I’m finding a number of those who have posted reviews of May B. on Goodreads start in a similar way:
I’ve never read a novel in verse before and wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it. I wondered if it would slow down my reading.
Having never read a novel-in-verse, I intended to check out the first few pages…
This is the first novel in verse I’ve read.
I had never read a novel in verse before…
I generally don’t like verse novels…
This is the first novel-in-verse I’ve read.
And my favorite so far:
I had never before read a novel in verse before, and it was rather a different experience. At first, I was struck by how simple the sentences were, and I thought that the author had simply avoided trying to write more complicated prose. But by the end, I saw it was as it needed to be. The simple structure paralleled May’s own frustrations at reading, and although I know little about dyslexia, I imagine a dyslexic child may find the short lines easier to read than long blocks of text. Thus, May’s story of survival and hope for the future can help the challenged reader because he or she is better able to access her story.
Besides, May’s story is one of survival. Survival is a vital need: why fancy up the text with unnecessary words when just a few will do? Further, such short clipped lines were incredibly powerful in capturing the story, and by the end of the novel, I recognized that writing such poetic and succinct lines was an additional challenge for the author.
I love the way this reader thought about the ways the story’s structure and plot work together! Have you ever read a verse novel? How do you honestly feel about novels in verse? Don’t be afraid to share!
Have a Happy Thanksgiving. I’ll see you again Monday, 28 November.